Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales and Tips, July 2024

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales and Tips, #294 July 2024

HAPPY JULY 4th! Both Ralph and I just got hit with COVID (for the first time!), we won’t be celebrating, but we sure have in the past! 

It sure would be fun to read them,  so I encourage you to send in items of interest to the hiking community. 

1.PCTA has an app now!
2.The newly-minted “Capital to Tahoe Trail”
4.Keeping Your Cool
ohn Muir Trail Hikers: How to reach Yosemite NTL park trailheads via public and private carriers.
6.Much is coming up with ALDHA-West.

#1. The 
Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) has launched the PCT Closures App. June 25. “We are thrilled to announce the launch of a brand-new smartphone app and website at designed for all who love the PCT. It’s free to use and can provide “critical trail closures and ‘trip-altering” updates along the PCT.” What’s closed, destroyed, or on fire is perhaps the most important information you can have.”

“The PCT Closures App is available for download on both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. The website version is live now as well – check it out. Plan ahead and prepare, and check for updates often. Your trip, and your life might depend on it.” Download here:

#2. A new side trail/quests is now open to PCT hikers. The 16-mile Capital to Tahoe Trail provides adventure seekers access to an incredible trail system in the Sierra Nevada mountains. “Eight years in the making—the trail is a gateway from Carson City, Nevada, to the Tahoe Rim Trail, connecting to the Pacific Crest Trail.”

“The quest from Carson City to Canada is estimated to take two to three months. “The Capital to Tahoe Trail provides the first non-motorized singletrack connection from Carson City, NV to the Tahoe Rim Trail and trails in the Lake Tahoe region. From the steps of the Capitol building in Carson City, a hiker is now able to quickly reach a singletrack trail that could take them on an incredible journey of 1,152 miles to Mexico or 1,606 miles to Canada.

The trail required partnerships from Carson City, Nevada Division of State Parks, USDA Forest Service and private property owners. Muscle Powered, the nonprofit organization responsible for the creation of the trail, will be formally recognized for this achievement on March 6, 2024 in Washington, D.C.”

#3. More about ticks: Last issue, I wrote about our recent experience with ticks—namely warning that they are out there. Here is what to do after a tick bite–including how to remove a tick. For more general info from the CDC, go here.  

#4. Keeping Your Cool. Many places in the U.S. are extremely hot right now. That’s not the ideal weather for hiking in my opinion—and according to many sources, it can be extremely risky to hike when temperatures climb. However, there is much you can do to mitigate the situation.

According to Hike OnRecent studies have shown that the optimum temperature range for long-distance walks or hikes is 50 to 55 degrees F. Above this range is considered hiking in hot weather, when a hiker’s performance degrades as much as two percent for every five-degree increase in temperature.”

According to Penn State: Age matters: “Studies have shown—when you look at the statistics, most of the people who die during heat waves are older people,” W. Larry Kenney, professor of physiology and kinesiology at the school said, “The climate is changing, so there are going to be more — and more severe — heat waves. The population is also changing, so there are going to be more older adults. And so it’s really important to study the confluence of those two shifts.”

“… young, fit, healthy people tend to tolerate heat better,” “Kenney said. “Older people, people on medications, and other vulnerable populations will likely have a tolerance limit below that.”

“However, because “humans adapt to heat differently depending on the humidity level, there is likely not a single cutoff limit that can be set as the “maximum” that humans can endure across all environments found on Earth.”

 According the S.F. Chronicle:  “Heat kills more in U.S. than other weather disasters,” reads the headline of an article by Catherine Ho in the San Francisco Chronicle today (7/3/24).  She reports (from the National Weather Service) that in the last decade, “an average of 188 people died each year from heat—representing nearly half of all weather-related deaths–such as floods, tornadoes, and hurricane.  

Gina Soloman, chief of the division of Occupational, Environmental and Climate Medicine at UCSF, says, “Heat harms more people that other extreme weather events because many people underestimate it’s impact and don’t take precautions.” Note that deaths caused by heat not only include heat stroke, but “may also include heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure,” according to Dr. Soloman.  

Susan’s Compilation of Suggestions and Tips for those who plan to  hike, backpack or otherwise exercise when it’s hot. NPR’S, “How to exercise safely in the heat” by Suzette Lohmeyer. UPDATED AUGUST 11, 20238:12 PM ET. had a wealth of information. 

Consider these:
1) Time of Day: Generally, the best choice is early morning. Second best is likely to be late afternoon or nearly evening—though the sun may have heated up your surroundings. Avoid the mid-day intense rays of the sun. If you must be out mid-day, or other times of day, choose a shadier place to exercise.

2) How to dress: Wear a lightweight hat. A hat with a brim provides more protection than a baseball cap; a hat with flaps on the back also provides even more. 

Wear loose-fitting clothing of material that is sweat-wicking. That allows your skin to perspire and cool. Avoid cotton. Wear sunscreen—apply well before you start out and re-apply as needed.

Susan adds: I’m not sure all agree with this, but Carol Ewing Garber, professor of movement science at Columbia University, says exposing more skin (as long as you also wear sunscreen, and avoid the brightest hours of the day) can be helpful, too. She adds that this is because “the more skin you have exposed to the atmosphere the easier it is for sweat to evaporate.”

Susan adds: Use a hiking umbrella. Though I have no way of scientifically measuring the increased benefit and impact of using a hiking umbrella, I have  experienced the difference in comfort level when using one.

3) Cool yourself: Drench yourself/ drench your hat and clothes with water.

4) When to eat: Garber says it’s fine to eat a light meal at least an hour before you exercise, two-three hours prior for a hearty meal. You don’t want to eat immediately before you head out. Your body needs time to digest your food beforehand. In addition, you don’t want the added body heat that digesting your food produces.  

In addition, stuffing yourself after heavy exercise is not wise because your body needs time to cool to return to normal again.

5) When to drink: Stay hydrated: Tank up before you start exercising—at least an hour beforehand. Garber recommends replenishing what’s lost during your workout by drinking somewhere between a half liter to a liter for every hour you’re exercising in the heat.

Drink water (preferably cold). IF you’re exercising longer than an hour, consider a sports drink to replenish sodium and electrolytes.”

Electrolytes: This article, from Utah State University discusses the use of electrolytes, compares products now available AND provides a recipe for making your own electrolyte beverage. Sip Smart: Homemade Electrolyte Drink Recipe

6) How do you know if you’re dehydrated? Check the color of your urine. Clear or close to it, is good. Dark yellow or brown is a warning. And if you haven’t peed as much as usual, that is a good sign you are dehydrated. Hyponatremia—drinking too much water is the result of drinking electrolyte deficient sources. “

7) Know the difference between dry and humid heat and take that extra water vapor into account. In general, dry heat is easier on your body because your sweat helps you cook and stay in a healthy manner.

8) Ease up in the heat and acknowledge your limits. When you exercise even in perfect conditions, there’s a lot of competition among different body parts for oxygenated blood, says Garber. “Your body is trying to send blood to your heart to keep it moving and to your skin to cool you down and to the area of the body you’re exercising,” she explains. “And you only have about five liters of blood, so it can really put a stress on your cardiovascular system. That’s on a good day.”

9) Know the warning signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke and, and what to do. The warning signs of heat exhaustion include fatigue, extreme thirst, nausea, headache, shortness of breath, rapid breathing, muscle cramping and just a general sense of lightheadedness.

For heat exhaustion: According to Matthew Madison Leonard, MD at John Hopkins Emergency Center. Stop the activity; spray them with water. . Most important places to cool are the head and face, the arm pits, and the groin, he says. “These are all areas of high blood flow and, when cooled, the blood near the surface is transported back toward the core of the body and sent to the vital organs.” Link to NPR article here. 

The warning signs for heatstroke (a much more serious emergency, includes the above and can also include confusion—meaning the person suffering may be in denial about their state. Other signs may be: vomiting, seizures, cardiovascular collapse or passing out and a lack of sweating. For heat strokethe CDC recommends:
Call 911 for emergency medical care.
Stay with the worker until emergency medical services arrive.
Move the worker to a shaded, cool area and remove outer clothing.
Cool the worker quickly, using the following methods:
With a cold water or ice bath, if possible
Wet the skin
Place cold wet cloths on the skin
Soak clothing with cool water
Circulate the air around the worker to speed cooling.
Place cold wet cloths or ice on the head, neck, armpits, and groin; or soak the clothing with cool water.

10. Think clearly: Hikers and backpackers, runners, and others who enjoy outdoor activity often find it hard to postpone or quit their activity. But, it’s important to listen to your body. When hot weather starts up, we may feel the urge to get outdoors, but it takes time for the human body to adapt to big changes in temperature and/or humidity. So instead of risking your health, even life, by jumping in–slow down and allow your body to adapt the the changing weather.

#5. John Muir Trail. Facebook group, Administrator, Inga Aksamit. “See the private shuttle list that is authorized by both Yosemite National Park and Inyo National Forest on the Yosemite website (see the last menu item called “Point to Point Transportation for Hikers”). Link here.  

“Inyo has a list of authorized service providers but currently do not list shuttle drivers. They have informed me of several who are authorized, and they match up with the Yosemite list. They plan to update their site with shuttle providers when they can get to it. Note that East Side Sierra Shuttle is mentioned on the Inyo site as *not* being an authorized shuttle provider.”

“The graphic I (Inga) have used in the past is outdated and has been removed by Inyo National Forest and should not be circulated in the future.”

Another option: DISCOVERYOSEMITE.COM. Yosemite Tours by Discover Yosemite. These are day tours of Yosemite National Park in small, comfortable buses with fun, intelligent guides! Departs from hotels in Oakhurst, Bass Lake and Coarsegold, California.

Susan: More info will be coming out–stay tuned on Facebook. 

#6. ALDHA-West (American Long Distance Hiking Association-West) is the organization that awards the Triple Crown of Hiking to those who have completed the Appalachian, Pacific Crest, and Continental Divide Trails.  They also organize several hiking events—including the regional RUCKS and a  Gathering.  The group also awards scholarships to some who need a financial boost to be able to hikes the trails.

The ALDHA-West’s TRIPLE CROWN APPLICATION period has now opened and ALDHA-West will continue to accept applications until August 31. If you have completed the Triple Crown, follow the link here to apply. 

The Gathering 2024 will be held Sept 27-29 is at Camp Augusta in Nevada City, CA. It is a fun time to meet or reconnects with other hikers and share trail stories, enjoy some good food, and kick back. You’ll enjoy hearing from world class speakers, experience the award ceremony of the Triple Crown Hikers, and more.

Thank you everyone. Stay well, keep hiking when prudent. I encourage you to send in items of interest to the hiking community to me at backpack45 “at sign”

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.

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales & Tips, June 2024

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales & Tips, June 2024
1) Anish sets new record on the Arizona Trail
2) Camino de Santiago: Changes to AIRPORT BUS SANTIAGO

3) Do we really need 10,000 steps?
4) Video: Bay Area Ridge Trail (Tom Coroneos)
5) Ticks are at it again
6) Regional: S.F. Crosstown and Doublecross Trail—Updates/Guided walks

Welcome to our newest neighbor

#1. Heather Anderson, Anish, now holds “the overall and only female unsupported FKT [fastest known time] for the 800-Mile Arizona Trail!
24 days! The trail travels across the entire length of Arizona from the U.S.-Mexico border to Utah. Heather completed the trail unsupported—meaning she hiked end-to-end with all of her supplies–including food.  WOW!   

Heather wrote, “Trekking the entire length of AZ without resupplying or accepting trail magic, or utilizing water caches was incredibly challenging…physically, but more so mentally.” Among those challenges were falling and sustaining an injury to her head, encountering “killer bees, rattlesnakes and a mountain lion.”

One may think of the SW as being all desert and hot, but it varies from ice and snow and temperatures below freezing in the north and extreme heat in the south. This trek is known for its lack of water—finding a small puddle was a big deal.

Heather said, “This experience revealed to me a new appreciation for my backcountry skill set and confidence in myself. I also had quite a few very personal breakthroughs, which I attribute to prolonged time alone in nature.”
Sign up for Heather’s WORDS FROM THE WILD newsletter

If you want to learn from the experts, Heather and Arleen are offering a couple of backpacking retreats/classes:

1) Join us at the Quarter Way, which is in located a stone’s throw from the Appalachian Trail in Ceres, Virginia October 13th-16th, 2024. This 3-day retreat will include instructional sessions, Q&A, and a practical overnight backpacking trip to use your gear and practice your skills. All women+ are invited to join us. This is a safe and welcoming space.

Words from the Wild (Heather’s site) is going to Alaska and Costa Rica and has these limited! openings:
2) August’s inaugural WFW Trip to Alaska has had a cancellation, so there is 1 OPENING available! Snag it before someone else does!
3) The February 3-9, 2025 trip to Costa Rica still has 3 discounted spots available and 12 at full price.

 #2. Camino Info: Changes to AIRPORT BUS SANTIAGO. Not everyone takes the bus from Santiago airport, but for those who will–Facebook posting by JohnnieWalker Santiago on FACEBOOK May 15, 2024.  “Hi John. Important news about the bus connections between the airport and the city that will try to remedy the lack of direct connection some years ago. From next May 24 [2024] there will be two connection lines; one will be direct (without intermediate stops) and faster (along the highway) with only two stops: the airport and the intermodal station (bus station) already in the city. Likewise, the route between the intermodal station and the airport will also have only these two stops on this line.

“The second bus line will also connect the airport with the intermodal station, maintaining the current route that runs along the conventional road and different streets of the city, but now it will have new features. In order to optimize this line and avoid passenger overloads, on the route between the airport and the city it will not be possible to board the bus at the stops located in the urban area and it will only be possible to get off the bus at these urban stops.

“Likewise, on the route between the city and the airport, it will only be possible to board the bus at the stops located in the urban area and it will not be possible to get off the bus except at the few stops located in the rural area or, finally, at the airport.

“Therefore, passengers will not be able to use this bus to travel between stops located in the urban area of the city, which will lighten the service and facilitate its use for travelers who use this service between the airport and the various stops in the city. This will mean that it will not be possible to take the bus at Praza de Galicia to go from the city to the airport (as this stop will become “Arrival stop from the airport”.

“Each of these bus lines will have a frequency of 40 minutes alternating from the airport, so there will be a bus from the airport to the city every 20 minutes. From the 24th there will be an adaptation period of 15 days in which passengers will be informed about the new rules.” A session on video in Spanish is linked here:  

#3. 10,000 Steps a Day? The controversy continues. I personally consider it a worthwhile goal, but an arbitrary number. Here a bit of info from a recent study. “Do you really need 10,000 steps a day? Here’s what the science says. The average American gets about 4,000 steps a day—but how much is enough? A recent study offers some insights” Here are some excerpts from an article by Tara Haelle, March 20, 2024. National Geographic premium article.  

“Goodwin [Ashley Goodwin, an exercise scientist at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research in Manhasset, New York] found it especially interesting that the benefit differed so little between those who sat for long periods each day and those who sat less.

Goodwin continues, “That’s really great because it drives home the message that simply walking a little bit more than you usually do is going to confer some health benefits, no matter where you’re starting from.”

“’The average American gets about 4,000 steps a day,’ says Mario Garcia, a cardiologist at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, so there’s plenty of room for improvement.” “… individuals over age 60 benefited most in the study, probably because people tend to decondition very quickly as they age.”

Matthew Ahmadi, an epidemiologist at the University of Sydney in Australia and one of the study’s authors wrote, “Past research had shown that higher step counts are linked to better heart health and a longer life, and a separate body of research has shown the increased risks of cardiovascular disease and death associated with more sedentary time. But this study brought those bodies of research together to learn whether extra daily steps could offset the risks of sedentary behavior even in those who spend much of the day seated.”

Columnist Tara Haelle added “In fact, highly sedentary people in the study began experiencing a heart benefit starting as low as 4,300 steps per day, when their risk of heart disease fell by 10 percent. Doubling that step count to 9,700 steps a day doubled the benefit.

Similarly, highly sedentary people began seeing a 20 percent reduced risk of death starting at 4,100 steps per day. Again, that benefit nearly doubled to 39 percent when their daily step count increased to 9,000. By about 6,000 daily steps, highly sedentary people got the same benefit as more active people.

Ahmadi says a key takeaway from the study is that people who cannot reduce their sedentary time can still benefit by boosting their daily steps.

#4. Devil’s Gulch Hike, Samuel P. Taylor SP. Tom Coroneos, who put this video with Platero music together, is one of the “team members” of our weekly Bay Area Ridge Trail hikes. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a friend who is a videographer and captures their adventures! This episode is an out-and-back walk in Samuel Pt. Taylor SP in Marin. One of the easiest of our outings—flat, on a well-maintained trail and surrounded by redwoods, ferns, wildflowers–and hundreds of butterflies also enjoying the sunny day.

An unexpected highlight was running into Rob and Kathryn Dunning, who have been volunteer hosts in the park since November. They will be leaving shortly to host at Eagle Point Campground, Emerald Bay State Park at Lake Tahoe, and will return to Samuel P. Taylor again in the fall.  What a life! Doing good, living in gorgeous places, meeting people from around the world, and enjoying great hiking!

Along the Bolinas Ridge Trail
#5. Watch out for ticks! On a recent hike along Bolinas Ridge Trail in gorgeous Marin County, we ran into a less wonderful sight! Ticks all over the dog we were hiking with—and while trying to remove them—climbing aboard our hiking partner, Patricia. The count was upwards of fifty. Being at the end of the line as we went through the tall grasses lining the narrow dirt trail, I ended up with only one minute critter. Luckily, none of the ticks had time to burrow in.

Katelyn Jetelina, in her State of Affairs: May 23, 2024 State of Affairs: May 23, 2024 Your Public Health Weather Report wrote: “Ticks thrive in the warm weather and lush vegetation of spring. Ticks can carry pathogens that cause over a dozen diseases, including Lyme disease. Lyme disease often causes flu-like symptoms and, if left untreated, can lead to more serious complications such as neurological and cardiac issues. 

“Today, emergency room department visits for tick bites are high. This seems to be a middle-of-the-road season compared to other years. Regardless, by the end of the year, more than 500,000 people will be diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease alone. 

“Not all ticks carry disease, and the risk of contracting a tick-borne illness depends on the tick species, geographic location, and how long the tick is attached. In general, tick diseases are more concentrated in the Northeast.  (Source: CDC; Annotated by YLE)

“You can do many things to protect yourself from ticks, such as applying DEET or picaridin, treating clothing and gear with products containing 0.5% permethrin, and conducting thorough tick checks after outdoor activities. Subscribe info here. 

This post was a team effort at YLE crafted by Andrea Tamayo, Sarah Gillani, Jessica Steier, and Katelyn Jetelina. Our main goal is to “translate” the ever-evolving public health science so that people will be well-equipped to make evidence-based decisions.” 

#6.Regional: San Francisco’s Crosstown and Doublecross walks. “Celebrate the 5th anniversary of the Crosstown Trail by getting out for a walk this June. We are offering over 15 guided walks and events you can choose from. See blurbs below or visit the event page to learn more and register. Link for remaining hikes here! 

“New Route & New Website: This year we are celebrating our anniversary with the adoption of a new route and website! The Double Cross Trail forms an “X” with the Crosstown Trail, and traverses the city from the southwest to the northeast. We’re tweaking the original Crosstown Trail route, highlighting new or enhanced trailside features. These changes are motivated in part by a diversion to see a new mural on a birthday hike for Bob Siegel, champion of the Crosstown Trails.” 

A few of the June guided hikes: Follow the link to see all and/or to register!!!!

Wednesday, June 5 | 9 a.m. to noonish.The Midweek Up, Over, and Down Special: Start at Duboce Park, ascend to Twin Peaks, and descend to Glen Park BART by wandering back and forth from the Double Cross Trail to the Ridge Trail to the Crosstown Trail. The 6.5 mile walk will permit us to experience the splendor of trail connections in the heart of the city.

Saturday, June 15 | 9:30 a.m. to about 4:30 p.m. The BART-to-BART Crosstown Combo: This 10-mile walk features many iconic San Francisco landmarks. We start at Glen Park BART, walk Glen Canyon to the “Tri-Trail Junction” where the Crosstown, Double Cross, and Bay Area Ridge Trails meet. Then over Twin Peaks, through Tank Hill, Mt. Olympus, and Buena Vista Park. We then head to Nob Hill, Chinatown, and North Beach to descend the Greenwich Steps to Levi’s Plaza and continue to Embarcadero Station for a true BART-to-BART excursion.

Friday, June 21 | 9 a.m. to late afternoon. A Crosstown Solstice Walk: Borrowing from our new Double Cross route and the original Crosstown Trail, we will walk from the Embarcadero’s northeast tip to Lands End, a 16-mile meander through the heart of the city and out to the ocean. Highlights include Chinatown, Nob Hill, Alamo Square, Mt. Sutro, Lobos Creek Valley, and more.

Sunday, June 23. Sunrise to Sundown: The Joyful 5th Anniversary SFCT Free-for-All. Set out on your own or with as many friends as you gather to walk, ride, or run as many miles as your soles/souls permit. Members of the Crosstown Trail Coalition will be at the Tri-Trail Junction at Portola Dr. and Twin Peaks Blvd., (the convergence of the Crosstown Trail, the Double Cross Trail, and Bay Area Ridge Trail) from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., to share your joy, whenever you stride through. No registration needed.

Saturday, June 29. 10 a.m. to about 4 p.m. Up, Down, and Around the Crosstown and Double Cross Trails. On this approx. 6-mile walk, we’ll trek up, down, and around San Francisco’s famous peaks on the Crosstown and Double Cross Trails. Explore different habitats, discover secret stairs, and take in the stunning views–while catching our breath!”

Remember, there are several more events this month; check the website for more hikes, info, registration. Mailing address: Crosstown Trail, 1074 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94103.

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.

Thank you everyone. Stay well, keep hiking when prudent. I encourage you to send in items of interest to the hiking community to me at backpack45 “at sign”

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.  

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales & Tips, May 2024

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales and Tips, #292 May 2024
1. Seven Reasons to Use a Hiking Umbrella
2. It’s Not Dew
3. Gear Cleaning, Repair, and Maintenance by Treeline Review
4. New rules for airlines should benefit passengers.
Are Baby Rattlesnakes the Most Dangerous Biters?
6. Regional: 
Springtime Hikes in a New Bay Area Preserve: Welcome        to Máyyan ‘Ooyákma /Coyote Ridge
7. Regional: ParkFest: Celebrating 90 Years of Your East Bay Regional Parks

#1Seven Reasons to Use a Hiking Umbrella
And it’s for a lot more than the routine writes Whitney LaRuffa. (Six Moon Designs. Jun 1, 2023.).

1. Shade on a sunny day. We all know the risks of exposure to too much sun and the potential for skin cancer. If you are like me, you burn easily and having to slather on tons of sunblock while hiking can be a chore, not to mention the extra weight in your pack. By using an umbrella, I can walk in the shade all day long, it helps protect me form harmful UV rays all the while keeping me cool as a I pound out the miles.
Susan adds: A couple of years back I did an experiment on my back deck to see how the temperature would differ on our table with and without an umbrella. It was unscientific, but there was a measurable difference in the temperature between the shaded and non-shaded of degrees difference between the two situations. If you are hiking, this can make a big difference in your comfort and physical well-being.   

2. Dry cover on a wet day. Let’s face it, hiking all day in the rain sucks. Besides being soggy, it can chill you to the bone and it makes breaks less than desirable. With an umbrella I can often hike with my rain jacket unzipped, it helps keep me remain drier as I move along, and best of all, it gives me a dry place to relax and snack during breaks.
Susan adds: There have been times when we have needed shelter in order to take a break or have lunch and we have turned to our umbrellas for help.

Lunchtime on the Vezelay Camino Route, France 2018.

3.Better condensation management in rain gear: As stated above I often use my umbrella in conjunction with my rain gear, every hiker has experienced that clammy wet feeling when trudging along in their rain gear, and often ask themselves, am I really any drier in this sweat jacket? Well with an umbrella the outside of my jacket stays dry reducing the condensation, it also allows me to vent my jacket as I move along minimizing the sweat and condensation against my skin.

4. It’s the door to my tarp: When using a flat tarp as a shelter I will often open my umbrella and use it at my head as a makeshift door. While this will not keep out the critters, I have often found it to be a great way to create a small wind break at night. It also provides the mental security of nothing looking at my mug while I sleep soundly in the woods.

5.Protection during nighttime bathroom trips: The only thing worse than trudging through the rain for days on end is when you lay awake at 3 am in your shelter as the rain comes down debating if you should get up and pee or try to hold it until the morning. No one wants to fight getting on rain gear to relieve themselves, but with an umbrella this task becomes easy. Simply crawl out of your bag, slip on your shoes, deploy the umbrella and now you have a dry place to go relieve yourself.

6.Moon blocker when cowboy camping: I cannot tell you how many times I have been cowboy camping only to be wake up in the middle of the night by a big fat moon shining it’s light down on me like a spotlight. Instead of trying to get creative using my Buff as a sleep mask, I simply open my umbrella, and lay my head under its canopy for a great light blocker.

7.Dry place to cook: I won’t get into the details here, but in 2016 I might have burned a whole in the side of my pyramid tent when I was cooking inside trying to avoid the rain. While I came out of the situation unscathed, I can’t say the same for my shelter. I realized that I had the perfect place to stay dry while cooking the whole time – my umbrella. Now when it’s time to heat up some water and cook the morning or evening meal (cold soaking is for folks much harder than me), I simply sit under my umbrella nice and dry.

“I encourage you to consider getting an umbrella before you set off on your next hike. Our Silver Shadow family of umbrellas includes 3 different models to suit everyone’s budgets, both financially and weight wise.”Happy Trails, Whitney “Allgood” LaRuffa

#2. Nope, It’s Not Dew. “Have you ever gone outside on an early spring morning and spied ‘dew’ on the tips of grass blades or along the margin of the leaves? It may actually be guttation, a mixture of plant internal juices that are exuded overnight.” David L. Nelson has the scoop in Bay Nature Magazine. 

Susan: I never took biology so I know little about the photosynthesis (part of the process by which plants take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen). This article, which I found fascinating, explains part of this process and why what we may have thought was dew is from fog, etc. from the air around us is actually juices excreted by the plant itself. 

Nelson continues: “However, at night, photosynthesis shuts down and the stomata are closed, conserving water. If the soil is moist, the root pressure will increase the pressure in the xylem, forcing the leaf to offload some of the fluid. You could think of it as an emergency escape route. When the plant needs to release fluid, and the stoma are closed, the fluid finds another way out. It exits through specialized pores called hydathodes; they are located at the tip of the blade of grass or at the margin of a leaf, typically at the tip of a marginal tooth or serration. If the humidity is high, the guttation does not rapidly evaporate, but accumulates at the leaf tip.”

#3. Gear Cleaning, Repair, and Maintenance. Treeline Review provides info on how to “clean and repair the gear you have —so you don’t need to buy new.” This is invaluable information for anyone venturing into the backcountry. All the articles in this overviewCleaning, Repair, and MaintenanceThe individual articles:: How to Fix Zippers on Outdoor Gear , Clean and Repair a Down JacketClean and Repair Gore-Tex and Waterproof ShellsHow to Wash a TentHow to Wash a Sleeping BagHow to Repair a Tent

Treeline Review online is free and it’s well worth your time to read their newsletters.  

#4. New rules for airlines should benefit passengers. The Transportation Department on Wednesday, April 24, announced new rules—they are to help with refunds, and avoiding surprise fees late in the booking process.

“Passengers deserve to know upfront what costs they are facing and should get their money back when an airline owes them — without having to ask,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

Some of the new rules/changes are:
“There’s now one definition of a “significant” delay.  Now, according to the D.O.T., there will be one standard: when departure or arrival is delayed by three hours for domestic flights and six hours for international flights.”

“Passengers will get prompt refunds for cancellations or significant changes for flights and delayed bags, for any reason. Refunds will be automatic, without passengers having to request them.” They must be made in the form the original purchase was made–check/credit card, etc. and are “due within seven days for credit card purchases and within 20 days for other payments.”

Costs to be given upfront! “Fees for checked baggage and modifying a reservation must be disclosed upfront. Airlines will be required to display extra fees for checking bags and seating selection up front.

The new rules have varying start dates. You can find more details at the United States Department of Transportation link here. 

#5. Are Baby Rattlesnakes More Dangerous than Adults? I am seeing reports that many hikers now are seeing plenty of rattlesnakes on their springtime walks.“Q: Is it true that baby rattlesnakes are more dangerous than adults?

A: “No, that is one of the many myths about rattlesnakes, says California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Coordinator Laura Patterson. The larger the rattlesnake, the more venom it will deliver when it strikes. Rattlesnakes are shy by nature and will only bite as a last resort when they perceive a serious threat to their lives. Typically, a rattlesnake’s first defensive strategy will be to move away from a perceived threat. If cornered or their escape route is cut off, they will seek cover if available. If the threat continues, they usually coil up and rattle as a warning, although some individual rattlesnakes don’t rattle.

“If the threat continues, they may strike. However, an estimated 25 to 50 percent of bites from rattlesnakes are dry, meaning they choose not to envenomate. It takes the average rattlesnake three weeks to replenish expended venom. Because their venom is intended for immobilizing prey, envenomating a threat they will not eat means they cannot eat for several days to weeks. This is why rattlesnakes do everything they can to avoid unnecessarily using their venom.

“Rattlesnakes can occur almost everywhere in California except alpine areas above tree lines on tall mountains. They can also swim. In most areas, peak rattlesnake activity occurs during spring and summer shortly after they emerge from winter dens.” Visit CDFW’s rattlesnake page for tips on rattlesnake safety.”

#6. Regional: S.F. Bay Area: Springtime Hikes in a New Bay Area Preserve.  Coyote Ridge. Excerpt from an article by Susan Alcorn. “Welcome to Máyyan ‘Ooyákma — Coyote Ridge.”  If you are seeking a hike in the Santa Clara Valley where you likely will find dozens of varieties of wildflowers in springtime, don’t miss seeing the lovely displays at ‘Mayyan ‘Ooyákma — Coyote Ridge Open Space Preserve. This grassland area of more than 1,800 acres opened to the public just last August. In springtime, visitors will find colorful wildflower displays along the trails by signing up for a docent-led hike or going on their own with the required Butterfly Pass. The pass, guided tours, entry, and parking are free.

I was lucky enough to get the last ticket for one of the March 2024, Bay Checkerspot Trail tours. The ticket was for one car — visitors can bring as many people as they can safely fit in their car.

“Mayyan Waayi Overlook Trail starts from the parking lot. It travels 1,000 feet on a short spur leading to a loop at the end (like a lollipop). Its gentle grade (5% average) and firm, stabilized, decomposed granite surface make it partially accessible. It leads to a rise with two scenic viewpoints where serpentine (California’s State Rock), wildflowers during the season, and meadowlarks may be enjoyed. Visitors can also enjoy the shaded picnic area. No permits are required to visit.

“The other three trails, Serpentine, Tule Elk, and Bay Checkerspot, form a loop. When docents lead a hike through the entire 5.1-mile loop, they generally do so clockwise because it’s judged safer. It allows hikers to tackle the steeper Serpentine trail going uphill, then cross the ridgetop along the relatively gentle Tule Elk, and descend the hillside on the series of switchbacks down the moderate Bay Checkerspot.”

This is only a portion of my article. You can read the rest here. We went back to the preserve this week and did the whole loop—actually would differ from the advisory’s rating of difficulty. The three sections do vary, but none IMO are particularly difficult. If you do go, check if the trails/preserve is open, be prepared for hot days in summer, and hiking poles are helpful. 

#7. Bay Area Regional: ParkFest:  A celebration of 90 Years of East Bay Regional Parks. Saturday, May 11 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Enjoy music, performances, Drakes Brewery, Kids’ Zone, hands-on fun, nature exhibits and displays, food trucks, eco-friendly activities, and more. Lake Chabot Regional Park, 17600 Lake Chabot Rd, Castro Valley, CA 94546. ParkFest is free and accessible to all. A BARTable event, the Regional Parks Foundation is sponsoring free shuttle service to and from the Bay Fair BART station.

“Established in 1934, the East Bay Regional Park District is the largest park district in the nation, with 73 parks, 126,000 acres, and 55 miles of shoreline.

“ParkFest Performers: Grammy Award-Winning Alphabet Rockers, Anthony Ant of Oakadelic, Los Cenzontles, Black Cat Zydeco, White Crane Dragon and Lion Dance Association, the Berkeley High School Jazz Band, Prescott Circus, Asheba Caribbean Music, Silly Circus Show, magic and bubble shows, and more!”
Thank you everyone. Stay well, keep hiking when prudent. I encourage you to send in items of interest to the hiking community to me at backpack45 “at sign”

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.

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales and Tips, February 2024

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales and Tips, February 2024

1. Susan presents: Things Learned on the Trail and my life on the trail. Talk in San Ramon
2. Bay Area Ridge Trail San Francisco gathering/hikes
Exercise and the Little Blue Pill
4. California names its state mushroom: the Golden Chanterelle
5. Susan, Ralph, and others to be announced, lead hike in San Francisco soon.
6. The RUCK rocks!
7. Odds and Ends


#1. Susan’s next public event will be hosted by the San Ramon Open Space Advisory Committee. It’s billed as “Things Learned on the Trail,” and it’s going to feature my life on the trail and readings from Walk, Hike, Saunter: Seasoned Women Share Tails and Trails. Date: February 10, 2024. Time: 9:00am-10:00am. Meeting at the: San Ramon Community Center, 12501 Alcosta Blvd, San Ramon, CA., (925) 973-3200.

“Come enjoy special guest speaker Susan Alcorn. Susan is an experienced hiker and author who encourages people from all walks of life to enjoy hiking. In particular, she shares the importance of hiking in her life and the lives of women.”

#2. Bay Area Ridge Trail San Francisco gathering and hikes. Just in case you are skipping the Super Bowl, or can record it for later in the day, “You’re invited to the 9th annual Super Stroll and Roll!  Have a ball with our community and hike or ride the Ridge Trail in the heart of San Francisco.
Four distances offered:
The Double Reserve: 15.3-mile bike ride

The Hail Mary: 12-mile hike
The End-Around: 6.5-mile hike
The Quarterback Sneak: 1.2 mile-walk that highlights the future site of the BAYS (Bay Area Young Survivors) Memorial Garden. This walk is intended to welcome all levels of ability. Please refer to the route information given on the registration page to determine if this route is right for you.”

#3. Is Exercise the New Viagra? “Men with erectile dysfunction may get nearly as much help from a regular walk as from a little blue pill, according to new research published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine in October.” From Wellness News (January 26, 2024.). The research, which you can read in detail  here concluded, “Regular aerobic exercise can improve the erectile function of men, particularly those with lower baseline IIEF-EF scores.”

“In an analysis of 11 randomized controlled trials, researchers found that aerobic exercise—such as brisk walking or pedaling a stationary bike—helped men with erectile dysfunction (ED) boost their sexual performance over the following months to years.” 

golden chanterelle from  Cantharellus californicus. “The California golden chanterelle is a popular edible mushroom native to the state. They are named for their distinctive deep yellow color. California golden chanterelles have a symbiotic relationship with California trees, especially oaks, and help to nourish underground root systems.

Mushrooms like the chanterelle keep soil healthy by breaking down dead wood and storing carbon in the ground. They can even help to filter our water.” (Assembly Bill 261, Chapter 644, 2023)

Here is a video showing the Golden Chanterelle.

If you want to learn more about California’s abundant mushrooms and the fungiphiles who study them, here’s one site: CA State Mushroom

#5. Susan, Ralph, and others to be announced, lead a San Francisco hike soon. Stay tuned at:

#6. The RUCK Rocks. Ralph and I went recently to the Nor Cal RUCK at Camp Herms in El Cerrito. So much to learn — trail info, how to pack, how to stay safe on the trail, and much more. The food – bagels and more for breakfast; BBQ and all the fixings by Shroomer (Scott Williams) and crew–was nutritious and delicious as always.

A few big takeaways:
ALDHA-WEST has launched a Diversity Scholarship. “We officially launched our new diversity scholarship program. Visit our website to learn more and apply. Link here.

Treeline Giveaway: Treeline Review (founder Liz “Snorkel” Thomas was on our gear panel) is running a “I’m Ready to Thru-Hike” giveaway packed with ultralight gear from 21 companies.

Backcountry Safety Skills: To receive the Backcountry Safety Skills Checklist from presenter Giggles’ talk, follow the link above to signup for that info.

It’s not too late: Those who missed this first of the RUCK gatherings for 2024, can still take part in other regions: the Cascade Ruck on Sat. Feb. 24 and/or the Colorado Ruck on Sat. Mar 23.

#7. Odds and Ends:
A. Poop takes “one to three years (longer in cold or dry environments),” to dissolve in a cathole according to Summer 2022. Be prepared–you can bring a wag bag kit (Waste Alleviating Gel) with you or bring a backpacker trowel and bury feces deeper. (One reviewer of TheTentLab(R) Deuce(R) Ultralight Backpacking Potty Trowel suggested wrapping a bit of duct tape around the handle because of trowel’s stiff edges.

B. Dial 112 anywhere in Europe for emergencies: medical, fire, and police. This works with cell phones, landline, and pay phones.

Thank you everyone. Stay well, keep hiking when prudent. I encourage you to send in items of interest to the hiking community to me at backpack45 “at sign”

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. 


Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales & Tips, December 2023

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales & Tips,  December 2023

Snow camping with Sierra Club group (photo: Susan Alcorn)

“For the born traveler, traveling is a besetting vice. Like other vices, it is imperious, demanding its victim’s time, money, energy and the sacrifice of comfort.” -Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), English author of Brave New World


1. Celebration of Life for Trail Angel Donna Saufley

2. Wildlife: Whoa, this is fascinating!

3. Amazing new #PCT #Fastest #Known #Time (FKT) records set: #Nick Fowler

4. New Fastest Women’s Known Time: #Jessica Pekari

5. Camino: The Ditch Pigs at it again

6. Susan’s hiking books – read free for 90 days on Kindle Unlimited

7. Our recent 9.000-mile road trip – and the computer glitch

8. Falling into a tree well…


1. Celebration of Life for Donna Saufley.
 You may have heard previously,  but just in case… we are all very sad that Trail Angel Donna Saufley passed away on October 6, 2023. Others have written much about Donna, so I will keep my comments short, but I knew Donna because she and her husband Jeff, ran “Hiker Heaven” in Agua Dulce, CA. They hosted thousands of PCT hikers through a couple of decades, and Ralph and I were fortunate enough to stay there twice while on the trail.

When I began my latest book, Walk, Hike, Saunter, I asked Donna if she would tell her story. I had been hesitant to ask because I knew she would have enough material to write several books of her own. Not only had she cared for and listened to thousands of hikers, she had also section hiked the PCT over an 11- year period. But, she did share her thoughts and feelings for the book, for which I was, and am, very grateful.

There is going to be a ‘Celebration of Life’ in her honor on April 13-14, 2024 in Agua Dulce, CA. More info below. Ralph and I are planning to go; please let me know if you are planning to be there also.

A couple of the dozens? hundreds? of the tributes to this wonderful woman:

Celebrating the Warmth and Generosity of Beloved Trail Angel Donna Saufley. By PCTA Staff.

October 11, 2023

“All of us in the trail community were heartbroken to hear of the passing of Donna Saufley on October 6 after a long and difficult battle with cancer. A long-distance hiker, former PCTA board member, and volunteer, Donna—along with her husband Jeff Saufley—helped create the generous culture of trail angels on the PCT. For years, Donna and Jeff hosted countless PCT hikers at their home in Agua Dulce, California, known as “Hiker Heaven.” Donna, whose trail name was L-Rod (short for Lightning Rod) will be missed by all.”

November 14, 2023 Journal entry by Cindy Anderson. On behalf of Floyd Jefferson Saufley you are invited to Donna’s ”Celebration of Life,” which will be held on the weekend of 13th -14th April 2024. (11861 Darling Road, Agua Dulce, CA 91390)

****For planning purposes please fill out the following RSVP form until the 30th of November 2023. Link here:

Susan: I am not sure if they can add attendees, but you can try at the above link,  which was still active today, Dec. 11, but if it isn’t now, you can email:


2. Wildlife: Whoa, this is fascinating!! As Daniel Dietrich’s article, “Apparently Coyotes Can Climb Trees,” reveals, there is “at least one in Moraga (CA) that can.” Stephanie Becker, who lives in Moraga, looked out her kitchen window recently and saw movement in a neighbor’s apple tree. Becker, who is a wildlife photographer, grabbed her camera and caught the episode that you can watch (link below).  

She contacted Dietrich, who shares her interest in wildlife and photography, and he started digging deeper to find out how prevalent such behavior is in coyotes. The experts were in agreement – they had never seen or heard of coyotes climbing trees before. “Gray foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) are known to climb trees—sometimes as a way to escape coyotes,” added Dietrich. In fact, this is a major defensive action that foxes use to get away from coyotes.  

Watch the video and read on for more about this unusual and exciting event.

3. New PCT Record. A new FKT (Fastest Known Time) record for the Pacific Crest Trail was set Sep. 6, 2023, by 35-year-old Nick Fowler of Oklahoma. His average daily mileage on the 2,650-mile trail through Washington, Oregon, and California, was about 51 miles. His total time was 52 days/9hours/18 minutes.

Fowler’s hike was unsupported—meaning he did not have anyone traveling along to bring him food, help him set up camp, or take care of any other needs. He started with a packweight of 7.5 pounds and detoured into towns to resupply along the way.

Generally, thru-hikers of the PCT start at the south end at Campo, but due to this year’s heavy Sierra snowfall, and the NW’s somewhat more manageable amount, he started in Washington in July and hit the Sierra later than one would normally. Even so, he ran into Hurricane Hilary and had to take cover in a cave for two days to weather the storm.

Though it is incredible what extreme endurance athletes can accomplish, it usually comes with a cost. Sometimes they are temporary, but there can be permanent damage. Nick suffered from exhaustion, discovered an alarming amount of blood in his urine, a huge blister—and at his hike’s end, he reported that his toes and front part of his feet were numb. (info from S.F.Chronicle, Gregory Thomas Sep. 22, 2023.)    

4. Jessica Pekari has set a new FKT record also. It’s just unreal what records are being broken – especially with the harsh snowfall last season. But none of that stopped Jessica. One the PCT, she chalked up Fastest female unassisted on Sep 18, 2023. This was 63 days, 7 hours, and 31 minutes traveling North to South.

“I recorded my entire attempt on my Garmin enduro and spot tracker. I pre-mailed my resupply of food, clothing and shoes. I got my water from streams, caches, and spigots along the way.  I walked to and from resupply.” And she wisely kept track of her journey on “tracker, watch, and Instagram account.” Her dates: July 17, 2023 to Sep. 18, 2023.

5. Camino de Santiago: Rebekah Scott of Peaceable Kingdom in Moratinos, Spain, posted on FB this week, “We wind up another year of Ditch-pigging, having cleared litter from Estella to Santo Domingo de la Calzada — 106 km in three long days. We did good!”

They sure did—and the Ditch Pigs have been cleaning up trash along the Camino since 2008. It’s too bad we can’t prevent people from littering and let the Ditch Pigs use their time and energy doing other worthwhile projects, but in the meantime, we can help them by making donations and adding support to their efforts.

6. Susan’s hiking books: read free for 90 days on Kindle Unlimited. If you have Kindle Unlimited, you will have free access to my five hiking books until Feb. 24, 2024. That includes:

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

Camino Chronicle: Walking to Santiago

If you do use this offer, we would greatly appreciate your great reviews!  

#7. Our recent 9,000-mile road trip—and the computer glitch. Before Ralph and I left for our roadtrip to Yellowstone, then across Canada, down the east coast to Kentucky, and back across the U.S. on a southerly route through New Mexico and more, we thought we had set up our WordPress computer system to automatically send out my October newsletter on October 1st. However, as you may have noticed it didn’t go out then. In fact, it wasn’t until we returned home in mid-November that it went out on its own. (As to why, that’s too long a story for here!). Anyway, we are sorry about the glitch, but hope you enjoyed reading the story “Oh, Deer” that I sent in place of the usual news and items that I usually have in the newsletter.   

#8. Backcountry risk: Falling into a tree well. Skiers, snowboards, and  occasionally backpackers fall into a tree well. This hole surrounding the trunk or branches of a coniferous tree can be partially covered with unconsolidated snow and not easily sighted until it’s too late. Some tips: Before you set out: Go with a partner! Carry a whistle. But if you do fall: you want to do all that you can to stay upright! The following advice is from October 2018.

As you are falling, try to grab the tree trunk or strong branches to keep upright. Move your head side-to-side to keep the airway open. Avoid knocking more snow into the well. Kick off snowshoes or skis and shuffle your feet side to side to make room to climb out. Blow your whistle and call for help.





Thank you everyone. Stay safe, keep hiking when prudent. I encourage you to send in items of interest to the hiking community to me at backpack45 “at sign”

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.

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