Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales and Tips, April 2021

Prime Hiking Season is HERE!
 
Indian Warrior
 
Question for you hikers out there: Why is everyone exhausted on April 1? 
 
Because we just finished a 31-day March. (Thank you, I guess, Distractify.com)
 
In case you wondered, there wasn’t a March issue of this newsletter; I needed the extra time for hiking in order to see the wildflowers emerging. Don’t miss out on this prime hiking season!
 
Contents:
1Treeline reviews and backpacking gear list
2. Grand to Grand Ultra
3. Anish’s podcast on her newest book, Mud, Rocks, Blazes. Interviewed by Jennifer Pharr Davis
4. Film screening and Q&A of Wesley “Crusher” Trimble’s short film, “Within Weakness.” 
5. New edition Sierra South by Elizabeth Wenk  
6. Ivar reports from Santiago weekly’ the March 22nd report had hopeful news.
7. Marcy del Clements new book of poetry and prose about Appalachia.
8. Regional: California: Tom Courtney suggests a California Walkabout
9. Regional: Northern California: Envision ‘The Great Redwood Trail’ 
10. Regional: SF Bay Area: Bay Trail: Osprey and the Lone Tree Point Bridge Installation.
11. Regional: SF Bay Area Ridge Trail: Ridge to Bridges. 
 
Articles:
#1. Treeline Review. I am a fan of Treeline. I know that the founders, Naomi Hudetz and Liz Thomas, started the company (in large part) to help others choose gear wisely. They don’t take advertising and they recruit other hikers to give honest reviews. So I expect that their 2021 PCT Gear list will be well vetted. There is so much useful information for hikers here in their “PCT Strategy & Gear List for 2021”! https://preview.tinyurl.com/y7ggb4ka
 
#2. Grand to Grand Ultra: Looking for an extreme challenge? Check this out: Grand Canyon, USA. September 19 – 25, 2021. Self-Supported Foot race, 6 stages, 7 days, 171 miles (275 km). “Aloha and howdy! As we reflect on the past year and our need to cancel three races, we wanted to reconnect with everyone and let you know that we continue to plan ahead for G2G 2021. The vaccine roll-out gives us hope that things will get back closer to normal by the summer and that governments will institute protocols to keep everyone safe while permitting us to do the things we love.
 
“Whilst we can see difficulty in holding mass participation events, particularly indoors, we are hopeful that our stage races will fit the bill for safe, organized outdoor activities. We have been busy developing and updating our own Covid-19 protocol to keep all our participants, staff and volunteers safe.
Registration is currently open for:  Grand to Grand Ultra. Be sure to check out the cancellation Policy – Covid-19.” https://g2gultra.com/g2g-homepage?idU=7 
 
#3. The book launch of Mud, Rocks, Blazes: Letting Go on the Appalachian Trail, by Heather “Anish” Anderson, was held virtually on March 25, 2021. Heather: “Everything looks a bit different this time around. In 2019 I was honored to give a presentation for the Mountaineers at their sold-out clubhouse event BeWild as the book launch for my first book, Thirst. While I miss the energy of the in-person events, I’m excited for the virtual book launch of my newest book Mud, Rock, Blazes.” 
 
The book launch was facilitated by Mountaineers Books and hosted by Jennifer Pharr Davis. It was co-sponsored by REI and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. You can listen to the podcast here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6agii56uLKI&t=38s
 
In case you haven’t followed what incredible accomplishments Heather has achieved, here is a partial list: In 2013, she set the unsupported speed record (no one bringing her food, etc. while on the trail) on the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail through California, Oregon and Washington. 
 
In September 2015, Heather broke the unsupported speed record on the 2,180-mile-long Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Maine to Georgia. Anderson completed the entirely self-supported thru-hike in 54 days, 7 hours and 48 minutes. 
 
She has received the ‘Calendar Year Triple Crown” after becoming the first woman to hike the entirety of the Continental Divide, Appalachian and Pacific Crest National Scenic Trails in one calendar year (in 2018.) 
 
You can also follow Anish on Instagram (@AnishHikes). 
 
#4. Treeline Review did a film screening and Q&A of Wesley “Crusher” Trimble’s short film, “Within Weakness.” A blurb about the film, “Cerebral palsy hinders Wesley Trimble’s strength and coordination on the right side of his body, but it hasn’t thwarted his goal to climb all 54 of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks. Along the way he discovered great strength within weakness, though tragedy taught him these adventures could cost him everything.” Here is the link to watch his film in HD. 
 
Wesley asked Treeline to share Disabled Hikers as a resource for anyone interested in learning more about how to advocate for great accessibility in the outdoors. “
 
#5. New edition Sierra South by Elizabeth Wenk. The consensus is that it is worth it to get this updated guidebook from Wilderness Press. On PCT forum, Ethan wrote, “Over 100 pages added to each volume with GPS coordinates for everything.  Routes verified and changed where time has shifted things. Details about recent fires. More details about side trips, geology, plants.” 
 
#6. Ivar reports from Santiago weekly. This is from March 22, 2021, and is more encouraging news than we’ve heard for a while. Click here
 
#7. Shinrin-Yoku by Marcy del Clements. Marcy writes that she has a new book with her poetry and prose based on her travels. “It’s an anthology of all my work printed in Appalachia, since the early 90’s.” The flyer is here; to reserve a copy send message to editor, pdhowe2@gmail.com  
 
Marcy, my long-time readers may remember, was one of the amazing backpacking women featured in my “We’re in the Mountain Not Over the Hill.” https://tinyurl.com/Marcyflyer
 
Regional: S. F Bay Area and Beyond
#8. Highlight: California. Tom Courtney has two Inn to Inn Hiking Guides: Walkabout Northern California and Walkabout Malibu to MexicoLink here.
Walkabout Northern California: Hiking Inn to Inn includes:  The Marin Coast; The Mendocino Coast; Crossing the Sierras on the Emigrant Trail; San Francisco to Half Moon Bay; Lassen Volcanic Park; Point Reyes National Seashore; Tahoe Basin; Monterey Bay; Lost Coast Circumtambulation; Sierra Foothills; Carquinez Straits.
 
Walkabout Malibu to Mexico includes: Exploring the Malibu Coast; Santa Monica to Santa Catalina; Santa Catalina to Newport Beach; Newport Beach to San Clemente; San Clemente to Oceanside; Oceanside to La Jolla; La Jolla to Mexico
 
Tom writes: “Is it Safe to Hike from Inn-to-Inn?
For most of us, the trails feel like the safest place these days.  Most hikers wear masks and distance when they approach others and a breeze cleanses the air.  Inns and B&Bs have added safety measures.  Here are some suggestions for a safe inn-to-inn hike:  Check lodging websites for safety protocols.  Contact your innkeeper or host for more details.  Ask about dining options – outdoor, takeout, delivery, and preparing meals yourself.  Bring hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.”
 
Featured to the north: Spring Inn-to-Inn Hikes: Walkabout the Marin Coast. Hike the coastal bluffs and forests of America’s western edge.  This moderate 41-mile, 4-day Walkabout starts in Marin Headlands and hikes to Point Reyes National Seashore.  The trail passes through three coastal hamlets: Muir Beach, Stinson Beach, and Bolinas, each offering interesting inns and wonderful cuisine.  Walk the trails of the Coast Miwok and a stretch of California’s wild and beautiful coast right at the doorstep of the San Francisco Bay Area.”  
 
Featured to the south: Oceanside to La Jolla:
Hike a gorgeous stretch of the Southern California Coast on this three-day, 28 mile adventure.  You will join scores of beach lovers on lively, popular strands, then hike long, secluded beaches.  Savor a stroll on miles of pristine beach under the 300-foot cliffs of Torrey Pines State Park.  Hike the rugged bluffs of La Jolla Peninsula.  Enjoy long days hiking along and swimming in the wild and beautiful Pacific.”
  
9. Regional: Northern California. Lisa Hettler-Smith is keeping us up to date on the progress to create ‘The Great Redwood Trail.’ In a recent virtual event, State Senator Mike McGuire asked everyone in his remote audience to close their eyes and “Imagine a strip of land roughly 50 feet wide and running for 320 miles, from the edge of the San Francisco Bay in Marin County through the vineyards of Sonoma County, showcasing the stunning beauty of Mendocino County through the redwood- and oak-studded hills of the Eel River Canyon, and then you’re gonna end your hiking adventure on the fog-shrouded shores of Humboldt Bay.” link here.
 
10. S.F. Bay Area: Osprey AND Bay Trail. “Just a few weeks ago, on February 18, Rosie completed her annual migration and returned to the Point Potrero’s Whirley Crane to reunite with her endearingly quirky mate Richmond, an event greeted with jubilation by the thousands of fans who follow the couple’s adventures on the Golden Gate Audubon Osprey Cam at sfbayospreys.org
 
“Richmond is one of just a few Ospreys around the Bay who don’t migrate in the fall. Instead he stays close to his namesake town for carefree winters of fishing on the Bay, paying occasional visits to the nest site while awaiting his mate’s return. This year’s reunion marked the start of Rosie and Richmond’s fifth season of nesting together at the Whirley Crane. The pair have fledged ten chicks since 2017, all banded for identification, and at least two of those banded offspring have been seen around the Bay after their own first return migrations.”
 
And on the Bay Trail: “A new bridge completing a 4-mile stretch of the SF Bay Trail from Lone Tree Point in Rodeo to Wilson Point in Pinole was installed in early March.” 
 
“This trail will eventually connect to the future Hercules Intermodal Transit Station. When the final SF Bay Trail gap from Pt. Pinole to Wilson Point in Richmond is completed, this stretch of trail will run 30 miles from Rodeo to Oakland.” The project is expected to be completed in summer 2021.”
 
#11. SF Bay Area Regional: Registration for the “Ridge to Bridge” fund-raising event and challenge for the Bay Area Ridge Trail is now beginning. Member can sign up today; April 12 for the general public. The self-guided events will take place over many weeks: April 1 to June 5, 2021.  
 
“What is Ridge to Bridges (and how is it different from past years)? Ridge to Bridges 2021 is a self-guided trail event for hikers, runners, mountain bikers, and equestrians. Choose your own DIY adventure! Register here. 
+++++
Thank you everyone. Stay well, keep hiking when prudent—and I encourage you to send in items of interest to the hiking community.  
 
Susan ‘backpack45’ Alcorn 
Shepherd Canyon Books, Oakland, CA
Author of Walk, Hike, Saunter: Seasoned Women Share Tales and Trails; Healing Miles: Gifts from the Caminos Norte and Primitivo, Patagonia Chronicle: On Foot in Torres del Paine; We’re in the Mountains Not over the Hill: Tales and Tips from Seasoned Women Backpackers; and Camino Chronicle: Walking to Santiago. 
 
Please note: Hiking and backpacking can be risky endeavors. Always be prepared for emergencies and carry food, water, shelter (warm clothing, etc.), flashlight/headlamp, matches, first aid supplies, and maps. Cell phones don’t always work. Leave word where you are traveling and when you are due back.
To subscribe, unsubscribe, or send a message to this (almost) monthly newsletter, please email Susan at backpack45 “at sign” yahoo.com

 

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales & Tips, February 2021

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales and Tips, February 2021

Contents:

  1. Camino news
  2. ALDHA-Virtual RUCKS
  3. Bear “Attack” in the Trinity Alps, CA
  4. Thru hikers’ medical guide
  5. Safety plea from the father of 2020 PCT fatality
  6. Grizzlies or humans? The 1,200 Pacific Northwest Trail
  7. Andrew Skurka offers guided backpacking trips
  8. “Anish” and Mud, Rocks, Blazes
  9. Heading for Yosemite soon?

Articles: 

#1a. Camino news: In Ivar Renke’s weekly podcast today (2/1/21) he said that Spain currently seems to be dropping from the peak of the third wave, but things are still not good. Hardly anyone is at the Pilgrim Office in Santiago.

Conditions are worse in Portugal. “Portugal has announced it will close land borders with Spain from Friday for a period of at least two weeks as it attempts to contain virus.” (Jan. 28, 2021) https://www.thelocal.es/20210128/portugal-closes-land-border-with-spain-as-virus-cases-soar

“Portugal has the world’s highest seven-day average of new daily cases and deaths per million inhabitants. It reported a total of 668,951 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 11,305 deaths, including a record 293 dead on Wednesday.”

Ivar commented that of the approximately 200 hotels in Santiago, four have had to close. Today’s podcast, click here. 

What is waiting for pilgrims in Santiago, however, is a renewed cathedral. This link shows you the inside. 

1b.The Big Map – XACOBEO 2021 Edition. This new map is similar to the old “Big Map,” with some differences in background colors and we have added some 3D effects so you can see the mountains you will/have walked over. (It is only a 3D effect; it is printed on flat paper). Shipped rolled up in a tube. Have a look at this new map here

1c. Last week Ivar said that the newest restrictions in Galicia say you can’t walk from one municipality to another, but no one is  stopping you. However a lot of restaurants connected to albergues close at 6 PM —so it’s both difficult to find lodging and food. Last week’s podcast of (Jan 26, 2021).

At that time, only 2.1% had received the vaccine after one month of the vaccine being available. Those considering a Mar, Apr, May Camino should keep in mind that herd immunity suggests there needs to be 70% vaccinated. So, he said, he didn’t think a spring Camino is possible. 

Note: As we know things change quickly, but before paying for flights, accommodations, etc., check out the cancellation/postponement policies. Also, if you purchase travel insurance, read the fine print for that too!

#2. 2021 VIRTUAL RUCKS. “Ruckin’ Season is upon us, and this year, we’re going virtual! Join us for four different educational sessions, whether you’re a seasoned section-hiker looking to talk shop with some hiker trash or someone who’s toying with the concept of possibly setting out on your first long-distance hike someday.

“ALDHA-West is excited to be able to offer this content across a much wider geographic area than our in-person events. So, if you’re new to “Rucks,” welcome! Each event will include both educational content as well as community time. Virtual Rucks will be offered at $5 to our members and $10 to non-members. If you’d like to attend but cannot due to cost, or if you would like to sponsor a scholarship, please reach out to secretary@aldhawest.org. Click here for website. https://www.aldhawest.org/

Upcoming 2021 Online Ruck Schedule

Feb 9, 2021: 5-7pm PT: Affinity Networking: Feb 9 @ 5pm PST.  FREE to all

“Looking to share space with long-distance hikers and aspiring hikers who share some of your identities? Want to ask questions specific to those identities in a safer space? Join ALDHA-West for FREE Affinity Networking spaces at the second ruck of the 2021 season.

“While we recognize that more identities exist than spaces we are able to offer at this time, and we hope to offer more and different spaces in the future. We are facilitating four different breakout groups, led by experienced long-distanced hikers who share the following identities: Black, Indigenous, and People of Color; LGBTQAI2S+ Folks; Women+ (not limited to cisgender women); Older Hikers

“During the session, you will have the ability to switch groups (if you so choose) in order to meet others who share different aspects of your identity. To foster a safer space for participants, we ask that everyone respect the space by only attending if you share at least one of these identities. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

“All participants will have the chance to win fabulous giveaway prizes from our Sponsors! We recommend using a computer or tablet instead of a phone to be able to see presentations more clearly. Register here: https://www.aldhawest.org/

Feb 25 5-7pm PT: Thru-hiking Advanced Topics. Extremes (snow, rivers, desert), DIY Gear, Reading Backcountry Weather, Cooking & Dehydrators, High Mileage, and Giving Back

Mar 10 5-7pm PT: Trail-specific Sessions. PCT, CDT, JMT, AZT, TRT, PNT, High Routes, and Section Hiking

#3. Bear “Attack” in the Trinity Alps. A case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time! Yikes, read it here.  

#4.  The Thru-Hiker’s Medical Guide by Dr. Stewart Anderson.  This is a First Aid Guide you can cut and paste to carry with you on a single piece of paper. Though it is highly advisable to take a wilderness first aid course before doing any major hike, this page can help you keep bring adequate supplies with you and remind you how to use them. Posted on JMT Forum. Click here.  

#5. “A father’s moving plea for safety on thru-hikes.” Doug Laher’s mission to save lives after his son Trevor died on the Pacific Crest Trail. This is the story of the accident and how you can hike more safely. Especially important if you plan to start your hike on the PCT early in the season. Read this to be safer.  

#6. Andrew Skurka and his team offer guided backpacking trips. For those new to backpacking, Andrew Skurka is an amazingly  accomplished adventurer. His credits include an Alaska-Yukon Expedition (6 months, 4,700 miles), Great Western Loop (7 months, 6,875 miles), and the Sea-to-Sea Route (11 months, 7,775 miles).

He offers a set of backpacking courses: “Successful backpacking trips are typically planned, not improvised. A thoughtful approach towards gear, food, maps, permits, travel, fitness, and skills will increase your safety margin and trip quality, and will actually create more potential for adventure — by solving foreseeable problems beforehand, you can respond fully to the true unknowns.” Click here. 

You can also find a free download at the link for his “12 go-to breakfasts & dinners.” There are also many helpful posts — two that attracted my attention were by Alexandra Lev: “Race and privilege in the outdoors” and “A women’s guide to backcountry hygiene || Menstruation, pee & poop, UTI’s, skin care.” 

#7. “Grizzlies or humans? Interesting article about the 1,200 Pacific Northwest Trail. The question raised is if  a 70-mile stretch in Montana should be rerouted to protect endangered grizzlies and Native traditions in the area? The Yaak’s alpine meadows are too small for people and bears to share them at the same time,” says writer Rick Bass. “Today in a Minute:  National Geographic online” 1/26/2021.)

#8. Heather “Anish” Anderson writes Mud, Rocks, Blazes: Letting Go on the Appalachian Trail.  “In 2018 I thru-hiked the entirety of the Appalachian, Pacific Crest and Continental Divide National Scenic Trails. I started in March and finished in November. Needless to say, I had my fair share of snow hiking and camping in widely varied conditions! While not my favorite (give me a sunny autumn day anytime), there are ways to make snowy days enjoyable for hiking and even camping.”

Find out more about this amazing woman — a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year! Anish adds, “This week, my publisher (Mountaineers Books) is hosting a Goodreads Giveaway of my newest book: Mud, Rocks, Blazes: Letting Go on the Appalachian Trail.” Link here 

She also would appreciate your review of her remarkable Thirst: 2600 Miles to Home.”

9. Heading for Yosemite soon? After suspending day-use permits last November, beginning February 8, the park is again requiring visitors to purchase them again. Rules:
Reservations are valid for seven days with unlimited re-entries.
Visitors must arrive on the first day indicated on the reservation.
The nonrefundable reservation fee is $2 and is included in the $35 vehicle entrance fee.
Annual of lifetime passholders only need to pay the $2 fee.
Those with a reservation for lodging or camping do not need to pay the fee (be sure to have the reservation info handy!).
Click here to go to the reservation.com website and make a reservation. 

Yosemite experienced major damage from a severe winter storm and high winds on January 19, 2021 causing the park to close to visitors temporarily. Though some things have reopened, much has not. Click here to see which entrances, roads, and facilities are currently open. 

============

All of my books listed below are available on Amazon and by special order from your local bookstore. Paperback and Kindle. 

Thank you everyone. Stay well, keep hiking when prudent—and I encourage you to send in items of interest to the hiking community. 

Susan ‘backpack45’ Alcorn
Shepherd Canyon Books, Oakland, CA
https://susandalcorn.com
https://www.backpack45.com

Walk, Hike, Saunter

Author of Walk, Hike, Saunter: Seasoned Women Share Tales and Trails; Healing Miles: Gifts from the Caminos Norte and Primitivo, Patagonia Chronicle: On Foot in Torres del Paine; We’re in the Mountains Not over the Hill: Tales and Tips from Seasoned Women Backpackers; and Camino Chronicle: Walking to Santiago.

Please note: Hiking and backpacking can be risky endeavors. Always be prepared for emergencies and carry food, water, shelter (warm clothing, etc.), flashlight/headlamp, matches, first aid supplies, and maps. Cell phones don’t always work. Leave word where you are traveling and when you are due back.

Guest Post: Amy Racina

Water Sports
Amy Racina, contributor

Amy Racina

It was a lovely evening at Wailaki Campground on the fringes of California’s Lost Coast. I set up my tent, barbequed some zucchini and the slab of bison I had picked up along the way, and staked down my tent on a nice flat spot. Though showers were expected, I wasn’t worried. I had a good reliable tent.

I snuggled in to read a good book and enjoy some restful dreams. Warm and dry in my tent, I dreamt that I was floating peacefully down a river on a raft.

My mattress was about three inches thick. As my hand dangled over the side, I suddenly felt water. This was wrong. I awoke with a start. It was pouring outside. I realized that there was two inches of standing water inside my tent. Further exploration told me that everything in the tent not on the mattress was saturated: my purse, extra outerwear, daytime clothing, Kleenex, book…

My sleeping bag and pillow were dangling over the edge as well, soaking up the puddle that my tent had become. I had to get up to pee anyway, so I stuck my feet outside my tent to put on the shoes I had left there. They were floating. I got on the soggy shoes and splashed through the water to dry land. The entire tent was now in a puddle about 6 inches deep.

No point in trying to go back to sleep amidst the soggy bedding, I decided. So I splashed back and forth, rescuing my saturated gear and stashing it all in large garbage bags. Loading dripping bags and myself into the car, I snoozed for a few hours and waited for the dawn.  

When it got light outside, I hopped out of my car. I was ankle deep in water. I saw that my entire campsite had become a small lake.  It was still raining heavily.

So I did what any intrepid traveler would do. I headed for home. It had been a fine adventure.

copyright 2021 Amy Racina
++++++++++
Because Amy is an intrepid hiker and traveler, she has many a story to tell about her adventures. Take, for example, her Angels in the Wilderness: The True Story of One Woman’s Survival Against All Odds.

From Amazon:
“This book is a first-person account of a disaster on a solo hiking trip. Author Amy Racina was hiking in a remote part of King’s Canyon National Park in California’s Sierra mountains when she lost the trail. With no warning, she suddenly fell sixty feet, breaking both legs on the rocks below. She survived for four days and nights, battling pain, fear and exhaustion, pulling herself along with her hands and refusing to give up. She was miraculously saved…”

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales and Tips, January 2021

“Hope, sanity, compassion, thoughtfulness, health, recovery — it’s time to WELCOME 2021!”  Couldn’t say it any better than how friend Katie Williams recently posted it on Facebook!

The trails await — though many are muddy!
Alviso Slough Trail (near San Jose, CA)

Contents:

1. The “New” Cathedral in Santiago
2. Pacific Crest Trail — time to apply for permits coming up soon!
3. Bay Nature: “What’s it like inside a Woodrat Nest?
Regional, SF Bay Area:
4. Bay Trail extension coming to Richmond, CA
5. The Alcorns explore new and old local hiking trails
6. Two rewarding hiking challenges for you

Articles:
#1. The “New” Cathedral in Santiago: Big happenings in Santiago de Compostela. The cathedral is open to the public again. Ivar, who hosts a Camino forum and manages the Casa Ivar in Santiago, has also been doing a weekly podcast about what’s happening pilgrimage-wise in Santiago. He recently took a walk through the cathedral and gave us a look at the restoration of what he calls the “New” Cathedral. Have a look here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2sSUoL8tDk&feature=youtu.be 

And in further good news, we learn that the Holy Door has been opened and the Holy Year has begun. 2021 is a Holy Year, but because of COVID-19, the pope has expanded the definition and the “year” now continues through 2022. Very good news for those who will not be able to walk the Camino, or otherwise visit the Cathedral this year, but might be able to next. Ivar wrote, “As you might have seen, we will also have a holy year in 2022, so no hurry. https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/pope-agrees-2022-also-a-holy-year.69116/ 
 
Another resource for keeping up with what’s open and what the conditions are on the pilgrimage trails and in Santiago, go to American Pilgrims.org
 
#2. Pacific Crest Trail Permits: Very good news! It appears that the USDA Forest Service and Pacific Crest Trail are going to issue permits for PCT hikes of 500+ continuous miles of the trail this year. You’ll be able to apply online starting on Jan. 19, 2021 at 10:30 a.m. Pacific Time.
 
There is a great deal of other important information on the PCTA website. The site also asks hikers to consider whether it is wise to hike the trail during this period when COVID-19 is still very much with us. Link here
 
Springtime in Section A of the PCT.

Northbound permits for trips starting anywhere from the PCT Southern Terminus at the Mexican border to Sonora Pass will be issued at normal levels of 50 permits per day from March 1 through May 31. Southbound permits for trips starting from the Northern Terminus will be issued at normal levels of 15 per day June 15 — September 15. 
 
If you are on Facebook, you’ll find a lot of information on the PCT Section Hikers group moderated by Jaunting Jan. If you are eager to have good information on the John Muir Trail, look at Inga Aksamit’s Facebook group. She administers the group and the site does a great job of explaining the often confusing rules and regulations of the JMT permitting process, etc. 
 
#3. Bay Nature: “What’s it like inside a Woodrat Nest? When recently walking around our nearby Lafayette Reservoir, a friend and I were talking about wood rat nests, which can be seen from the popular walking trail. So, when I saw this recent article in Bay Nature, I was pleased to learn something new about these cute critters. 
 
Pack rats are also known as wood rats, and even trade rats. I knew that the nests were commonly used for generations (some have been documented at being used for 60 years or more.). And this time of year, when most nearby lower-growing vegetation is bare, it is pretty easy to spot their homes —3-6 feet high, up to eight feet wide, and made of branches, bark, and grasses—but also sometimes wires, glass, and author Michael Ellis adds, old shoes. 
 
Compartments and trading:
I was also intrigued to learn that rats’ homes have compartments—separate chambers for giving birth, sleeping, and pooping. I was also intrigued to learn that the things that they swipe from humans—as disparate items as shoes, jewelry, and gum wrappers—may end up being woven into their homes’ walls. The “trader rat” moniker is appropriate because sometimes they may be carrying home one shiny object, encounter one it finds more appealing, and trade.
 
Rats are one of the few mammals that can eat the leaves of toyon. The toyon leaves are highly toxic to humans and most other animals because they contain cyanide compounds. But the packrats store the leaves in one of their many pantries until the leeching process breaks down the toxic ingredients, which makes the leaves safe for them to consume! (From Bay Nature, Winter 2021. Michael Ellis.) 
 
#4. Regional, SF Bay Area:
Friends of the Bay Trail in Richmond shares great news. The City of Richmond and East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) have been awarded $2.2 million for building 2.5 miles of Bay Trail along the shoreline from the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge Trail to the northern border of the City’s Point Molate property at Stenmark Drive. For details, see the CA Natural Resources Agency press release below about award of these Prop. 68 Recreational Trails & Greenways program grants.
 
These grants complete funding for construction of this $6.5 million project when combined with Plan Bay Area Priority Conservation Area grants of $2.2 million, EBRPD funds from Measures CC, FF & WW, and funds provided to the City by Chevron in 2009 as settlement of litigation over underpayment of utility user taxes. EBRPD has funded design plans now at the 65% preliminary stage, approved a Mitigated Negative Declaration under CEQA and applied for the major permits required. Construction should be completed by the end of 2021.
 
This will be more than a multi-use trail. It will provide the first public access to this shoreline, other than Point Molate Beach Park, since the Huichin tribe of Ohlone dwelled on this stretch of San Francisco Bay shoreline. The first mile of trail from the RSR Bridge will follow a shoreline easement granted by Chevron to EBRPD, while the remaining 1.5 miles will be on the City’s Point Molate property. Click here for more news.
 
#5. The Alcorns explore new and old local hiking trails: Like I’m sure many or most of you, we have not been traveling afar recently. However, we are blessed with a good range of hiking trails throughout the region. The EBRegional Parks District (across the bay from San Francisco) is the largest urban regional park district in the US. 
 
Whenever I consider the options we have, due to the individuals, informal groups, environmental organizations, and governmental agencies that have fought to safeguard our open spaces, I marvel at the vision and tenacity displayed. Beyond that, it has been the public as well as private donors who have funded our wealth of recreational sites. 
 
In December, we hiked primarily in wetland areas — Coyote Hills Regional and Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge (Fremont), Arrowhead Marsh/Martin Luther King, Jr. Regional (Oakland); Corte Madera Marsh; Alviso Flood Plain (near San Jose) — because this is bird migration time. We also watched, a couple of times, a murmuration, an incredible display by tens of thousands of starlings swooping and weaving incredible patterns in the sky before they landed in nearby eucalyptus trees at dusk. 
 
Murmuration (starlings) in San Rafael, CA

#6. Two of the 2021 hiking challenges in the Bay Area
#PixInParks Challenge. Santa Clara County Park System. Complete all seven featured hikes and get a tee shirt of bandana. Parkhere.org 

#Trail Challenge 2021. East Bay Regional Parks. There are twenty featured trails, you choose whichever ones you want to compete and “to complete the challenge, hike five of the 20 trails – or 26.2 miles of trails within East Bay Regional Park District.”
 
The “twenty featured trails are now available on the AllTrails app. First download the free app, sign-up and log in, then go to https://www.alltrails.com/lists/ebrpd-trails-challenge-2021 and click on “Copy to my lists”, followed by “Continue in App”. The featured trails will show under ‘Lists’ in ‘Plan’. The app indicates where you are on the trail, enabling easy return to the trail if you stray from it. You can also record your hikes, and share your photos, comments etc. with others.” More info here. 
 
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Thank you everyone. Stay well, keep hiking when prudent—and I encourage you to send in items of interest to the hiking community.  
Susan ‘backpack45’ Alcorn 
Shepherd Canyon Books, Oakland, CA
 
Author: Walk, Hike, Saunter, which is now available in both print and Kindle versions!  
Also: Healing Miles: Gifts from the Caminos Norte and Primitivo, Patagonia Chronicle: On Foot in Torres del Paine; We’re in the Mountains Not over the Hill: Tales and Tips from Seasoned Women Backpackers; and Camino Chronicle: Walking to Santiago. All are available in both paperback and Kindle versions.  
 
Please note: Hiking and backpacking can be risky endeavors. Always be prepared for emergencies and carry food, water, shelter (warm clothing, etc.), flashlight/headlamp, matches, first aid supplies, and maps. Cell phones don’t always work. Leave word where you are traveling and when you are due back.
 
To subscribe, unsubscribe, or send message to this (almost) monthly newsletter, please send a message to Susan at backpack45 “at sign” @yahoo.com

Walk, Hike, Saunter is Now Available!

Walk, Hike,Saunter is Now Available…
Long-distance hiker Susan Alcorn introduces you to 32 experienced outdoors women who consider hiking to be an essential part of their lives.  Their stories are told with honesty, insight and humor. They share their wisdom and proven tips to inspire women and men of all ages.

The women, all 45 and older and in the prime of their lives, are superstars—shining examples of the richness that hiking can bring to our lives. All told, they have hiked tens of thousands of miles.

The Contributors
The list of contributors is sort of a Who’s Who in the hiking world:  
Inga Aksamit, Barbara Anderson, Beebe ‘Jack from Ireland’ Bahrami, Jan ‘Pooh Bear’ Barlow, Jane Blanchard, Carolyn ‘Ravensong’ Burkhart, Judy Chovan, Emilie ‘Dirty Emilie’ Cortes, Lynne ‘Sparkly Manaña’ Davidson, Marion ‘llamalady’ Davison, Mary E. ‘Pastor Mary’ Davison, Laurie Ferris, Lorie ‘Veggie’ Florence, Laurel (Ibbotson) ‘Happy Feet’ Foot, Nancy ‘Why Not?’ Huber, Naomi ‘The Punisher’ Hudetz, Sandy ‘Frodo’ Mann, Jan ‘Jaunting Jan’ McEwen, Karen ‘Butterscotch’ Najarian, Sylvia ‘amaWalker’ Nilsen, Marcia ‘GottaWalk’ Powers, Nancy Reynolds, Lisa Robinson, Dami Roelse, Donna ‘L-Rod’ Saufley, Patricia Schaffarczyk, Diane ‘Piper’ Soini, Diane Spicer, Jane Toro, Elsye ‘Wandering Chardonnay’ Walker, Katie Williams, Sue ‘Leapfrog’ Williams.

The women hikers represent a range of interests. Some are into long-distance hiking and have earned awards for their accomplishments. Others include trail volunteers or trail angels who have spent considerable time giving back to the hiking community. 

A common theme running through Walk, Hike, Saunter is that there are many paths to incorporating hiking into your life. Whether hiking is one of many things that you enjoy doing, or whether you find it such an passion that you don’t mind living out of your car in order to pursue it—you can reap the rewards of exploring the world on foot. As you immerse yourself in nature, enjoy new vistas, and perhaps experience interesting cultures, you’ll improve your health and fitness and enrich your life.

Walk, Heal, Saunter is now available in paperback on Amazon, and on Kindle. Your favorite bookstore can order it for you through Ingram distributors. ISBN-13: 978-0936034072.