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

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales & Tips, January 2024
“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” Henry Miller. 

1. The 2024 Ruck Schedule is out
2. Yosemite 2024 Entry Requirement
3. Treeline Review includes Best Plus Size winter outdoor clothing.
4. Susan’s hiking books – read free for 90 days on Kindle Unlimited
5. Halfway Anywhere
6. Rain gear no longer keeping you dry?
7. And your tent?
8. 12 Bucket List Hikes in Northern California, One for Every Month of 2024
9.Regional: S.F. Bay Area (East Bay) Trail Challenge.
10.Regional: S.F. Bay Area Ridge Trail

View from hike on Mt. Tamalpais State Park

#1. The 2024 Ruck Schedule is out. NorCal Ruck: Saturday January 20, 2024–Camp Herms, Berkeley, CA
Cascade Ruck: Saturday February 24, 2024 Skamania County Fairgrounds, Stevenson, WA
Rockies Ruck, Saturday March 23, 2024 Active Adult Center, Wheat Ridge, CO

From the organizers, “This day-long event is designed for all backpackers (from novice to expert) to come together to meet other hikers, get educated and get inspired for the upcoming hiking season.

“Highlights Include:
Invited Speakers on wilderness safety, resupply, gear, and more.
Trail-Specific Breakout Sessions — PCT, CDT, JMT, Tahoe Rim Trail, Camino de Santiago, and more. Talk to an expert, in-person.
Personalized Pack Shakedowns — Bring your kit and get expert advice to swap gear and carry less.
Breakfast & Lunch provided, including vegan options
Local Vendors with amazing gear and more
Our legendary GEAR RAFFLE with ultralight backpacks, shelters, sleeping systems, and more. We think the raffle alone is worth the attendance, really!
…and of course, plenty of time to socialize with your local trail community 🙂

Susan adds—we will be there. This is always “a day full of important info and discussions for hikers. This is an excellent chance to talk to the experts, to meet up with trail buddies, and to enjoy both breakfast and lunch!!! Space is limited. Register early to guarantee your spot. Questions or Concerns?” Email

“REGISTER NOW. $35 (15% off if you join!) Much more info here:

#2. 2024 Yosemite Ntl. Park Reservation Requirements for Horsetail Fall and Park entry.
Horsetail Fall: 
February 2024 “Horsetail Fall can glow orange when it’s backlit by sunset, which can make it appear to be on fire. This unique lighting effect happens only on evenings with a clear sky when the waterfall is flowing and when the sun is at the right angle in mid– to late February. This event attracts many visitors to a small area, causing traffic congestion, parking issues, safety concerns, and impacts to natural and cultural resources.

In order to manage this event, reservations will be required for entry to Yosemite on: February 10–11, 2024; February 17–19, 2024; February 24–25, 2024.”
Park Entry: “Mid-April through October 2024 Reservation Requirement. A reservation will be required to drive into or through Yosemite National Park on some days from April 13 through October 27, 2024, for those driving into the park between 5 am and 4 pm as follows:
“April 13 through June 30: A reservation is required from 5 am to 4 pm on Saturdays, Sundays, and on holidays (May 27 and June 19).
July 1 through August 16: A reservation is required from 5 am to 4 pm every day.
August 17 through October 27: A reservation is required from 5 am to 4 pm on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays (September 2 and October 14).
“Driving through the park will also require a reservation if entering between 5 am and 4 pm. If you are planning to visit after peak hours, please do not arrive before 4 pm; vehicles blocking roads will be cited.”
“New reservation system for next summer. Heads up if you’re coming to Yosemite!”

FEES: Info on Yosemite park’s fees here: Fees & Passes – Yosemite National Park (U.S. National Park Service) (

#3. Treeline Review: You’ll find recommendations for baselayers, mid-layers, and outerwear here

#4 Reminder: Susan’s hiking books – read free for 90 days on Kindle Unlimited. If you have Kindle Unlimited, you will have free access to 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! 

#5. Halfway Anywhere (Mac) does an annual year-end survey of PCT and JMT hiker survey – their experiences, what worked, what didn’t etc. as a resource for future “PCT and/or JMT hikers and recreators. Look here.  

#6. Rain gear no longer keeping you dry? explains how it all works (or doesn’t). “Rain shells are composed of three layers: an outer layer, and DWR (durable water repellent), and a waterproof inner layer. This inner layer has pores that water vapor can pass through but not water. Over time, the pores of the DWR layer become clogged with sweat and the vapor can no longer escape—which keeps the moisture inside. The answer—wash your jacket with a technical wash detergent such as Nikwax Tech Wash. If the garment has lost water repellency, follow the wash Nikwax TX.Direct after cleaning. Follow the rest of the manufacturer’s directions—including using a front-loading washer or washing by hand and then drying at low heat.” Do not dry-clean.

#7. And your tent? Perhaps you put your tent away after your last summer or fall backpack trip and forget to store it properly. It’s, hopefully, not too late to care for it and have it in good condition for your next trip. 

“Never machine-wash or machine-dry a tent. A washer, especially a top-loader with an agitator, can stretch or tear fabric, mesh and seams. Dryers can do the same, and can generate enough heat to do damage as well.” Link here

#8. Subject: 12 Bucket List Hikes in Northern California, One for Every Month of 2024. S.F. Chronicle has a great plan for you. We have done about 3/4 of these hikes and can vouch for what terrific hiking adventures are given in the link here. Thanks, John Alcorn, for forwarding this info. 

#9. Regional: S.F. Bay Area – East Bay Regional Park District’s 2024 Trail Challenge is here! 10 suggested hikes, of varied levels of difficulty and length are featured (you can substitute any of the district’s trails if you prefer as long as you complete 26.2 miles or at least five of their trails.). There are a limited number of free guidebooks and t-shirts available. Complete info is at

#10. Regional: S.F. Bay Area Ridge Trail. Slowly but surely, Ralph and I are continuing on the Bay Area Ridge Trail circumnavigation of the trail with our hiking partners Tom Coroneos and Patricia Schaffarczyk. The trail is a work-in-progress with approximately 400 miles currently open (free) to hikers, equestrians, and bicyclists. The plan is for a 500+-mile contiguous trail to encircle the Bay Area along the ridges. More info here

The rewards are many! Here are a couple of photos of our most recent hike (Jan 4) from Pantoll in Mt. Tamalpais State Park to Tennessee Valley in the GGNRA. Rated moderate. Officially given as 8.5 miles. As with many of the trails, we did a shuttle so that we don’t need to do an out and back. Not a perfect system, but makes it doable for us. 

Signage at Pantoll

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.


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