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

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales and Tips, #267 Sep. 2021
#1. Mark your calendar for Susan’s book celebration: Nov. 13
#2. Lyme Disease — perhaps a cure is upcoming?
#3. Less litter and plastic use?
#4. Bear encounters on the rise?
#5. ALDHA-WEST events
#6. Jaunting Jan lives up to her name
#7. State of California closes National Forests due to fire risks
#8. Books to inform and entertain
#9. Regional: The Crosstown Trail: How to walk across San Francisco in a Day.
#10. Regional: New East Bay campground opens

#1. Save the date! Please save November 13, 2021 for my first real, in person (we hope), book party/event featuring my most recent book, Walk, Hike, Saunter: Seasoned Women Hikers Share Tales and Trails. I’ll be at the Book Passage in Corte Madera, CA talking about some of our trail adventures and experiences, and about long some of the rewards (and some challenges) of hiking and backpacking.  Details will be provided later on, but the plan is also to have a couple of the women featured in the book read from their stories they contributed to the book, and to enjoy some wine and nibbles. Anyone vote for GORP (Good Old Raisin and Peanuts)? Since most years the weather is great around here that time of year, we expect an event at 2 PM and outdoors to be quite fun. Info on the book here. 

#2. Preventing Lyme Disease: Finally, a Shot to Prevent Lyme Disease Could Be on Its Way. (Aug. 16, 2021, Outside Online). Lyme Disease is a tricky disease. About 3/4 of people who become infected will get the get a red rash, in the shape of a bullseye, after a Lyme-carrying tick bite, but some people do not. When other symptoms show up: fever, fatigue, headaches, and swollen joints, the patient may not attribute their symptoms to the disease because those symptoms often resemble the flu or COVID-19. 

Lyme disease is so named because it began in the U.S. in Lyme, Connecticut. While it remained in the Northeast and Great Lakes area from a long time, it has  now it has spread to all 50 states, and more medical providers are familiar with it.

Lyme is treatable, and most people who are infected recover after a month of antibiotics if the disease is caught early. However, that means that the infected person needs to seek care, and the medical team needs to start treatment. It also tells us that not everyone will respond to the antibiotics.

Things to consider: The black-legged tick (of different varieties according to location) is also often called the “deer tick,” because deer are the most frequent carriers, but mice can also be hosts. Deer populations are increasing—not only in the wilderness, but also in our suburban areas.

But, Sam Telford, a Tufts University professor of infectious diseases, says “Even if you have an infected tick attached to you, if you remove it within a day [to 36 hours], it doesn’t matter.’” 

The best defense at the moment — short of not going outdoors, is to wear long sleeved shirts and long pants and/or to treat clothing with permethrin.

Mark Klempner, a physician and infectious-disease scientist at the University of Massachusetts … is the lead creator of a first-of-its-kind antibody shot for preventing Lyme infection. The idea is to administer the injection annually, so that people are protected from during the time that tick nymphs are most active — late spring through early fall.

The article, click here,  gives more history of the disease and of previous research toward eliminating the disease as well as explains more about Klempner’s research and hope for a future without Lyme Disease.  

#3. Amy Cantrell Morton on the John Muir Trail facebook group, wrote, “I started using these this summer for the Tahoe Rim Trail and they work great! “Compostable & Biodegradable Food Bags – Responsible Products” 

#4. ALDHA-West is again having a virtual Gathering. “We will be hosting two different virtual events during the week to connect with our hiker community this year: the Triple Crown Award Ceremony will be on Tuesday, Oct 5 – 5-7pm PT, the Gathering on Thursday, Oct 7 – 5-7pm PT.

“If you’re a member, make sure to log into your account on our website before registering.” Register here.

Yosemite black bear

#5. Are bear incidents on the rise (there have been more than usual this year)? There have been five incidents in the U.S. and Canada combined this year. Two in April (a grizzly in Yellowstone, a black bear in Colorado). Two were in May (both incident involving grizzlies in Calgary). One in July (a grizzly in Ovando, Montana). This is a slight increase from recent years. In 2020, bears killed 4 people in all of the U.S. and Canada. In 2019, there were 2 fatal bear attacks.

Bear attacks do make the headlines, but the numbers don’t warrant concluding attacks are trending upwards. Speculation is that with increasing numbers of people being outside for recreation with COVID-19 circulation, there are also increasing numbers of bear encounters.

Frank van Manen, Team Leader of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, explains, “In the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzlies have tripled their range over the past 40 years.” He adds, “It is important to recognize that in the vast majority of bear encounters, bears avoid any form of confrontation and leave without incident, which of course does not make the news.” he says.  Outside Online article here.

#6. Jaunting Jan, who goes by the name Jaunting Jan on Facebook and elsewhere, should be a poster child for successful rehab after having “spent September learning a lot about knee anatomy, followed by knee surgery in early October. For six weeks, it’s crutches and 8 hours a day in a CPM (continuous passive motion) machine, so basically 24×7 in bed.”

But Jan, whose story in also in Walk, Hike, Saunter, is not a quitter. As I followed her rehab process through the subsequent months, I was inspired by her strength and discipline. She followed doctor’s orders and set reasonable goals for getting back onto the trails. First it was on flat trails near her home using crutches, and gradually increasing her distance. When she could throw out the crutches, she continued slowly increasing speed, distance, and then level of difficulty. She was soon saying such things as “only” being able to walk eight miles, etc. At this point, she has traveled to dozens of hiking trails on the west coast and even been able to do a few backpacking trips.

From Jaunting Jan’s June 26, 2021 blog: “I’ve mostly decided to embrace this forced pause as a preview of how I might enjoy my wild places as I continue to age. There’s no doubt that my body will fail again and what once was moderately challenging will become too much. I’m grateful I’ve found places to go where I can just sit and admire nature’s beauty without having to hike into higher country, although that will always be where my heart sings loudest.

“Maybe it’ll be the motivator to find a more suitable place to make my home base. It has reaffirmed the pluses of having the security blanket of a home where I was able to escape COVID and rehab from my surgery. It’s nice to have a home gym and a trail system within 5 minutes of my door where I can ride or walk. Convenience is worth a lot like having a community pool in my backyard or a lake just 15 minutes away where I can swim or take my paddleboard.

“I know you and many others are also going through personal challenges. We may not have decades and decades of adventure remaining as those much younger but hopefully it’ll help everyone reset priorities and try to live with fewer regrets and more purpose.”

#7. USDA Forest Service Temporarily Closing All California National Forests for Public Safety. “VALLEJO, Calif., — August 30, 2021. To better provide public and firefighter safety due to the ongoing California wildfire crisis, USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region is announcing a temporary closure of all National Forests in California. This closure will be in effect from Aug. 31, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. through September 17, 2021. This order does not affect the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, which is not in the Pacific Southwest Region.

So no Labor Day camping, hiking, biking. Those caught entering Forest Service lands — including developed campgrounds, hiking trails and recreation sites — typically face fines of up to $5,000 for violating closure orders. The closure order only applies to Forest Service lands. State and national parks and private lands set their own rules.

“’We do not take this decision lightly but this is the best choice for public safety,’” said Regional Forester Jennifer Eberlien. “Factors that led to this decision include …  [by] temporarily reducing the numbers of people on national forests, we hope to minimize the likelihood that visitors could become entrapped on National Forest System lands during emergency circumstances….” Info here.  

“Earlier this summer, two of California’s largest private forest companies — Sierra Pacific Industries, and W.M. Beaty & Associates — closed nearly 2 million acres of private timberlands to public access due to what the companies’ foresters described as unprecedented dry conditions.”

#8. Books not to miss:
If you are interested in the Camino: Moon Camino de Santiago: Sacred Sites, Historic Villages, Local Food & Wine (Travel Guide) by Beebe Bahrami.

If you are interested in Vermont’s Long Trail: A Short Walk on a Long Trail: A Couple’s Sauntering on the Vermont Long Trail.  Dennis and Jane Blanchard each wrote up their backpacking adventures on the trail. Of particular interest to me was their day-to-day description of the conditions they encountered. This is one TOUGH trail. Dennis, who had previously completed the entire Appalachian Trail, found that the Vermont Long Trail was even more difficult. Also interesting to read their comments regarding how aging and/or training can affect such a challenging undertaking. 

S.F. Crosstown Trail goes through many interesting neighborhoods. Great fun!

#9. Regional: Article about the San Francisco Crosstown Trail. Even though the article was written to describe how to do it in one day, Ralph and I did it in four sections, on different days, with various friends. Instead of doing out-and-back hikes, we did each section as a loop by choosing alternate routes/streets to return to our starting points.  Article here.

#10. New East Bay campground opened: The East Bay Regional Park District recently invited the public to celebrate the opening of a new campground in the S.F. East Bay. It is their first campground on the bay shoreline. The Dumbarton Quarry Campground, in Fremont, has 60 sites with full RV hookups. Article here.  

Thank you everyone. There will not be a newsletter in October. 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.

To subscribe, unsubscribe, or send a message to this (almost) monthly newsletter, please email Susan at backpack45 “at sign”

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