Balance vs Falling — a Hiker’s Challenge

Balance Matters!

Ralph demonstrates importance of balance
Ralph has great balance (Torres del Paine. Patagonia)

The last time I was in an airport, I witnessed an impressive (to me, anyway!) feat. A young woman, while walking across the waiting area, noticed that one of her shoes was untied. She preceded to stop and tie the undone lace while balancing on the other foot. 

I can’t confidently do that; I’m not certain if I ever could have done so. I do know, however, that I always used to stand on one foot while getting dressed. Now I usually sit on the bed or lean against a wall when putting on slacks or a skirt. I don’t really need to, and part of it is laziness, but it’s also an indication that I am less trusting of my ability to balance.  

When I was a kid, I thought nothing of walking along a curb or a narrow plank. Now I have second thoughts when I come to a stream crossing that involves using rocks or a log. Unless the rocks are very stable or the planks across a stream are wide, I much prefer to wade through. 

After my observation at the airport, I gave all of this some thought. I considered the fact that falls can be a very serious matter for seniors. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says that “one in every three adults age 65 and older falls” each year. (I suspect that 1 in 3 of any age falls each year, but that’s another matter.) The CDC also says that falls are the leading cause of injury death for this age group and “in 2009, about 20,400 older adults died from unintentional fall injuries”. Even if older adults do not die from their falls, they are likely to sustain serious injuries that limit their activities and/or send them to a wheelchair. 

Even though I have very healthy bones and am active, I have been slacking off and not continuing to do these simple exercises.  Recognizing that a decline in stability is not serving me, I recently elected to sign up for a nearby adult-ed class that focuses not only on strength training and stretching, but also on balance. 

From past experience, I know that I will see improvement. I remember how gratifying it is to have quick results from any physical regimen! Whereas most exercise seems to take forever to show any improvement, a few simple routines can make a world of difference in a short time.  

I love my hiking poles and will continue to use them for their many benefits, but it is still important to have good balance for day-to-day activities as well as hiking ones. 

Here are three things that have worked for me:
1. Start by standing (near a chair or other stable object if necessary for safety) on one foot and lifting the other for increasingly lengthy times. (I often do this (eyes open!) when doing other simple tasks — such as waiting for the microwave to heat water for tea, or when brushing my teeth.) When you are able to stand on the one foot for at least a minute, try doing this with your eyes closed. (recommended by my chiropractor, Richard Teel of Novato, CA.) 

2. Stand on both feet, shoulder length apart. Walk 3 steps forward, then lift one foot and hold it up for one count. Walk another 3 steps forward and lift one foot again. Then take 3 steps backward, hold, 3 more back. Then go to the right 3 steps and hold, repeat. Then go to the left 3 steps and hold, repeat. Continue this series of stepping 3 steps forward, back, side, side, but with longer times of holding the one foot up. Increase to 2 counts, then 3, and then 10.  (taught by instructor, Francesca Weiss, at Acalanes Adult Center, Walnut Creek, CA)

3. Sign-up for classes and practice in yoga, chi gong, and tai chi. Many communities have Adult Ed exercise classes that are low-cost — sometimes even free for seniors. 

Hikers and Backpackers
If you want to keep hiking and backpacking, keep in mind that you need more than strength and endurance. No matter what your age, you also need to have good balance because falls are the single most common cause of hiker fatalities! 
 
Happy trails,
Susan Alcorn, backpack45

author of Walk, Hike, Saunter: Seasoned Women Share Tales and Trails; Patagonia Chronicle: On Foot in Torres del Paine;
Camino Chronicle: Walking to Santiago; We’re in the Mountains Not over the Hill: Tales and Tips from Seasoned Women Backpackers.
www.susandalcorn.com

 

 

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales & Tips, Dec. 2022

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales & Tips, #278, Dec. 2022

Backpacking & Hiking Tales & Tips image of half dome
Yosemite’s Half Dome

Happy Holidays!
Contents of Backpacking & Hiking Tales & Tips:
#1. Bay Nature Talks — online and free
#2. New! “Boots McFarland – 20 Years on the Trail”
#3. Camino info: Ivar discusses 2023 Brierley Camino Guidebook and Bed Bugs.
#4. Camino: Sylvia Nilsen’s Guided Camino walks
#5. Camino: Hospitalero Training in Point Reyes, Ntl. Park, California
#6. First Woman to do Continuous Trans-Canada hike
#7. Heather Anderson received new award, plus offers hints to hikers
#8. Jaunting Jan’s 2022, Jaunt, the Landscape. WOW Edition. JOY!
#9. Regional: Bay Area Ridge Trail. Tom Coroneos captures a grand peninsula hike.
Articles:

#1. Bay Nature Talks — free.

The delightful and informative Bay Nature Magazine offers free one-hour webinars. Whether you want to read “An Inside Lock at Bay Area Bobcats,” “Nature Journaling with John Muir Laws,” “A Year in the Life of the Urban Gray Fox,” or something equally fascinating, you can enjoy it from anywhere — “an indoor escape into the San Francisco Bay Area’s natural world.” 

#2. New! “Boots McFarland – 20 Years on the Trail”.

  Geolyn Carvin writes, “Hi Susan, Yes, I finally finished the new book…. Man, that took a while.  I lost my mojo (like a lot of people during the pandemic) so gave myself permission to be lazy.  But luckily I got my focus back.”

“Boots McFarland — 20 Years on the Trail spans the history of the Boots character from 2003 to 2022.  It contains more than 130 comics moving through the seasons, showing the evolution of the artwork and of Boots’ personality.  Its colorful illustrations are for grown-ups, though most kids will enjoy them too.” 

“Geolyn Carvin has been in love with the mountains her whole life.  She has completed the Pacific Crest Trail and the Tahoe Rim Trail.  ‘I had a lot of experiences on my hikes, mostly amazing, sometimes uncomfortable, occasionally painful, and most often humorous.  I enjoyed writing a journal and soon discovered that it was fun to draw a snapshot of the trail comedy that we all experience.”

#3.  Camino info:

Ivar discusses 2023 Brierley Camino Guidebook, number of pilgrims, BED BUGS and more. Could be important info for pilgrims in this video. (Bedbug portion Starts at about 3:00). 

#4. Sylvia Nilsen’s guided Camino walks.

“In spring everything in northern Spain is green, the wildflowers are spectacular and the European storks have returned to their huge nests on towers and steeples to raise their chicks. amaWalkers Camino is offering a 17-day walk from St Jean Pied Port (in France) to Santiago de Compostela. On your 17-day Camino you will walk 255 km, across three scenic sections of the Camino Frances, averaging 16.5 km (10.25 miles) per day. The longest day is 22km (13.6 miles).

We arrange everything, accommodation, transport on the sections you don’t walk, luggage transfers and a group leader who will accompany the group. All you have to do is walk! Information and registrations on our website

Sylvia is one of the women featured in my most recent book, Walk, Hike, Saunter: Tales and Trails from Seasoned Women Hikers.

#5. Camino Hospitalero Training, February 3-5, 2023.

The first American Pilgrims on the Camino Hospitalero training for 2023 has filled up, but there is a waitlist.  A hospitalero supports other pilgrims on the road to Santiago.
Here are the current plans for next year:
February 3-5, Point Reyes, CA. Registration has filled up, but the waitlist is open. Follow this link for more information.
April 11-13, Zephyr Cove, NV (Lake Tahoe)
June 2-4, Stroudsburg, PA
September/October, TBA
The February training costs $295 and will be held at the Hi Point Reyes Hostel, 1390 Limantour Spit Rd., Point Reyes Station, CA 94956, and will begin at 4:00 PM on Friday, February 3, 2023, and conclude at 5:00 PM on Sunday, February 5, 2023. Sunday night lodging is available at the hostel for an additional $25.

To attend you must: Have walked at least 100 km or biked at least 200 km of the Camino; Have stayed in at least 2 non-private albergues; Be a current member of American Pilgrims on the Camino; Be at least 18 years old by January 15, 2023; Provide proof of COVID vaccination plus the Booster; Note: all attendees may be required to wear masks during the training. Bring your masks.

Training Schedule: Check-in: 4:00 PM on Friday, February 3, 2023; Training complete: 5:00 PM on Sunday, February 5, 2023. You must attend the entire training session to be certified!  Make your travel plans accordingly! 
Register here: February 3-5, 2023 Hospitalero Training
Email for any questions here.  hospitalerotraining@americanpilgrims.org

#6. First Woman to do a continuous hike of Trans-Canada.

Melanie Vogel completed the 12,000-Mile Trans-Canada Trail hike on Saturday, November 12, and became the first woman to complete a continuous coast-to-coast-to-coast hike of the Trans Canada Trail. She hiked all the land-based miles of the 15,000-mile land and water route—26 million steps.

 “Vogel started her journey on June 2, 2017 in Cape Spear, Newfoundland, and finished in Clover Point, Victoria, British Columbia.” She had originally planned to complete the hike in two years, but when COVID-19 began, “she was forced to reside in Yukon for a year and a half until she could resume hiking.”

Vogel was born and raised in Germany, and immigrated to Canada in 2008. “A 10-day trek to the Annapurna Base Camp in Nepal was her only previous long-distance hiking experience.”

The Trans Canada Trail (TCT), formerly known as the Great Trail, combines both land and water routes that, together, span over 24,000 km (14,912 mi). It is the longest trail network in the world, connecting the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic oceans.

Prior to Vogel’s accomplishment, Dianne Whelan was recognized as the first person to complete both the land and water routes of the TCT in August of 2021. In 2017, Sarah Jackson became the first individual to complete an east-to-west journey on the trail.

Learn more: https://tctrail.ca/news/melanie-vogel/ and https://thetrek.co/melanie-vogel-completes-historic-12000-mile-trans-canada-hike/

#7. Heather Anderson, aka Anish, gains new award, and more.

As her website says, she’s an explorer, trailblazer, thru-hiker. She’s also an award winner —including the hikers’ Triple Crown, has set many speed records on the trail, has hiked 45k foot miles, and was National Geographic Adventurer of the Year 2019.  She has written two memoirs, published by Mountaineers Books, Thirst: 2600 Miles to Home (2019) and Mud, Rocks, Blazes: Letting Go on the Appalachian Trail (2021).

Her most recent honor was “becoming a member of the California Outdoor Hall of Fame. In her current issue, she writes, “To snuggle up with hot cocoa or tea and a good book. To take a moment and catch snowflakes on your tongue. To be grateful for the simple joys of being alive. The Danish call this ‘hygge’.”

Sign up for her Newsletter! Website here.  If you sign up for the newsletter, “As a welcome bonus you’ll receive an excerpt from my upcoming book: Adventure Ready: A Hiker’s Guide to Planning, Training, and Resiliency…available only to my newsletter subscribers!” 

Heather’s Hints from her December Gear Spotlight:
“The humble safety pin is often overlooked as a crucial piece of gear. Quite honestly, carrying a few of these in different sizes can save the day in so many ways. In addition to first aid (popping blisters) they can also repair a wide variety of gear and clothing failures.”

#8. Jaunting Jan shares highlights of travels and hikes in Colorado and more.

Jan (one of the women in Walk, Hike, Saunter) spent five months traveling and hiking this year. That’s especially noteworthy because it followed   lengthy knee rehab. “This 5-minute video showcases my favorite scenes. May it bring smiles as we head into the holiday season.” Jan’s 2022 Jaunt, the Landscape WOW Edition. “JOY! 

#9. And last but not least: Regional: Bay Area Ridge Trail video by  Tom Coroneos.

Here, our friend Tom captures our delightful S.F. Peninsula hike. In late November, we did a hike of two Bay Area Ridge Trail segments: Russian Ridge and Windy Hill (8.3 miles). How many people are lucky enough to have a hiking companion who captures so many of the special moments we have on the trail? Tom is amazing. He hikes with us, goes home and takes a short nap, and then spends a couple of hours putting together his wonderful videos for us to enjoy the next day! +++++++

Walk Hike Saunter cover image
Walk, Hike, Saunter

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

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales & Tips, November 2022 – blister prevention, john brierley event, Backpacker Mag last words

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales & Tips, #277, November 2022.

Happy Thanksgiving!

John Brierley coming on zoom near thanksgiving

 Contents:

#1. World’s Oldest Restaurant: Madrid
#2. Not good! Burning Clothes and Shoes after the Camino – Fisterra
#3.
American Pilgrims: John Brierley Zoom coming up
#4.
2023 Annual Gathering of Pilgrims in Lake Tahoe, NV, April 13-16, 2023
#5. Foot care/avoiding blisters
#6. Free delivery for donations of slightly used, outdoor gear
#7. Good advice from Backpacker Magazine’s final issue
#8.
Regional (California and Baja): The Blainville’s horned lizard
#9. Regional: Bay Area Ridge Trail Hike
#10. Regional:
Jack London State Historic Park’s Ninth Annual After-Thanksgiving “Turkey Waddle,” Nov. 25, 2022

Articles:
#1.
World’s Oldest Restaurant: Madrid.

 Camino-bound and stopping in Madrid? Check out Restaurante Botín in Madrid, Spain. It’s recognized by the Guinness World Records as the oldest restaurant in the world.  “At the World’s Oldest Restaurant, the Fire Has Been Burning. Since 1725. They’ve never turned the oven off.” (Mike Pomranz, Travel and Leisure; posted by Michael Noël of the Nor Cal Pilgrim group.)

#2. Not good! Burning Clothes and Shoes after the Camino!

A number of local websites are reporting another campaign against the practice of burning boots and clothing at Fisterra. Something which locals say has given an area of natural beauty the appearance of a landfill site. Previous poster campaigns have had limited success.

Ask yourself–would like this practice carried out on a beach near you, or in your backyard? If you want to get rid of your used hiking clothes, see item #6 below and see how you can send items to an organization that will pass them on to someone else. LNT!

#3. APOC (American Pilgrims on the Camino) Zoom session.

APOC will be holding its 2nd Annual Holiday Open House on Saturday, December 10th at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time. “There will be an hour with John Brierley, author of Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino. In this live virtual event, John will share his inspiration and insight, from how the Camino is emerging from the COVID-19 years to his powerful personal reflections on the healing power of the Camino.

“A significant portion of this live Zoom session will be dedicated to answering your questions. Look for more information on how to register for the event through the American Pilgrims Facebook Group, on their website, and in your email if you are an #APOC member. Zoom: Registration link will be sent in an upcoming member email and event will be streamed live on the American Pilgrims Facebook Group (available to all).”

#4. American Pilgrims on the Camino — 2023 gathering.

This summer the APOC’s “planning teams provided updates regarding the 2023 Annual Gathering of Pilgrims in Lake Tahoe, NV, to be held April 13-16, 2023. Making it an international gathering is being discussed with the Canadian Company of Pilgrims. There was also consideration of proposed joint efforts with Spanish associations …”

#5. Avoiding blisters.

We all know that everyone’s feet are unique and what works for one may not work for all, but I was recently asked for my advice, and I answered as follows. Keep in mind that I had a terrible time with blisters on my first Camino hike (2001), but got the following advice from a (French) pilgrim, which has helped tremendously— as did changing from boots to trail runners (Altra Lone Peak).

I do two kinds of preventative taping. First I wrap a wide, breathable tape (Omnifix) around the ball of my foot (I have bunions). The tape is backed by paper that you easily pull off after you cut a length of it to fit. Then I wrap each toe that is prone to blisters with a one-inch tape called Medipore. The Medipore is breathable, stretchy, and soft-cloth-like. It tears off in about 1&1/2” segments; I tear off about 2-3 sections per toe. It stays on for a couple of days if needed. These products can be obtained through Amazon and many pharmacies.

In the past I have used double-layer socks such as Wrightsocks, and toe socks such as Injinji, but now I wear a single lightweight sock by Tilley, called “Unholey”, Tilley women’s ankle socks. Unfortunately, they are increasingly difficult to find (none have worn out, but just in case…) Darn Tough are tough, but also heavier than I prefer.

Other things to consider—it you are expecting to encounter a lot of loose dirt, or sand, you should consider a lightweight gaiter like the fun ones Dirty Girl Gaiters dirtygirlgaiters.com  offers. Blisters are generally caused by friction (abrasion or rubbing) and heat — and/or by ill-fitting shoes or socks.

When hiking, always take care of hot spots right away; take off shoes and socks to let things cool. Popping a blister is usually not a good idea because it can introduce bacteria and cause an infection. But if the #blister is large and painful, it might be necessary. If you choose to do so, be certain the needle, your hands, and any other material are sterile. Do not pop a blister than has blood in it or any other sign of infection. If you develop a blister, it usually will take a week to go away. You can cover it with a special bandage for blisters if necessary.  

#6. Wanted!! All that gear you never use: Outside’s Gear program, Give Back.

Three simple steps: pack up your gently used items, print a shipping label, and send them off (free in the U.S) to the Gear Fix. Their repair partner prepares items to be resold and to benefit the Outdoorist Oath (advocates for environmental justice and an inclusive outdoors.” oursideoline.com/give-back

#7. Sound advice from Backpacker Magazine.

The last issue, as I understand it, of the print edition of Backpacker Magazine, is the Fall 2022. It’s an interesting comparison of the advice and practices in the early days of the magazine (which goes back 50 years), and of that given and favored now.
Hiking poles: Adjustable poles came about in the 1960s. German Karl Lendhart, a skier, came up with a locking system. The system, “patented for the first adjustable pole—the Leki Makalu—is still in use today.”

Trail running shoes: When I first started backpacking in 1989, I wore the kind of footwear that most other hikers were wearing — boots. However, choices have widened! “Last year, a thru-hiker survey found that 77% of Appalachian Trail Thru-hikers wore trail running shoes. “ The 2011 release of Altra’s Lone Peak model, changed things dramatically, and they have become the overwhelming favorite.  Credit the “breathable mesh upper, chunky lugs, cushy midsole, zero drop heel, and a wide, foot-shaped toe box.” (Backpacker.com Fall 2022)

#8. Regional (California and Baja): The Blainville’s horned lizard.

Have you ever seen one? Looking at an earlier (Spring 2022), copy of Bay Nature Magazine, I stumbled again on an article about this amazing reptile. It “is endemic to California and Baja, eats native harvester ants, and as a defense of last resort, squirts blood from its eyes.” The article continues, “the blood can reportedly reach six feet forward or backwards”— chiefly to startle coyotes, foxes, and dogs (it would startle me too!). Put this on your calendar to do a search next spring in our South and East Bay Counties. 

#9. Regional: Bay Area Ridge Trail.

After a delightful time at a recent event—where I was invited to give a talk on Walk, Hike, Saunter: Tales and Tips from Seasoned Women Hikers—I found a renewed interest in circumnavigating our amazing trail.
For those who aren’t familiar with the #Ridge Trail, it’s a planned 550-mile (890 km) multi-use trail along the hills and mountain ridgelines circling San Francisco Bay and more. Currently, four hundred miles are currently open. Link to Ridge Trail

With my hiking partners, Patricia Schaffarczyk, Tom Coroneos, and Ralph, we recently did another section-hike on the San Francisco peninsula. We started at the North Parking lot of Purisima Creek Redwoods (off Skyline/hwy 35) and ended at the South End Parking lot of Purisima Creek Redwoods. It was 5.8 miles of gentle descent (1000 ft.) and ascent through wonderful redwoods with occasional sightings of the ocean.

One of the things that struck me was that (except for an occasional airplane) it was absolutely quiet once we were away from the highway. On the weekends, it would be busier, but on this weekday, we saw only three other people.

#10. Regional: Jack London State Historic Park’s Ninth Annual After-Thanksgiving Turkey Waddle.

The Day-After-Thanksgiving Turkey Waddle Hike at Jack London State Historic Park sets the pace for a healthy holiday season. That’s Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. “…The annual Turkey Waddle Hike lets everyone get out and ‘shake their tail feathers’ after a day of feasting and football.

This moderate 3.5-mile hike leads through mixed evergreens on the way to the majestic Ancient Redwood (also affectionately known as the Grandmother Tree).
Waddlers, will gather at 10 a.m. in the Ranch parking lot to the right of the entrance kiosk.  The hike will end at noon.  The event will be cancelled in the event of rain. Great for all ages, participants should wear sturdy shoes and bring water.  The trail includes uneven and rocky surfaces and involves some elevation gain and loss.
“Reservations are required and can be made at jacklondonpark.com/events/turkey-waddle-2022/.   Tickets are $10, plus the $10 per car entry fee (up to nine passengers).” More info at: jacklondonpark.com/events/.

+++++
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” yahoo.com
Susan ‘backpack45’ Alcorn
Shepherd Canyon Books, Oakland, CA
susandalcorn.com
backpack45.com

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, July, 2022.

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales & Tips, #274, July, 2022. Happy Fourth!

Contents:

1. Bed compartments for Economy Class?
2. 10 Best Day hikes in New Zealand
3. Getting Rid of Toxic PFAS in Outdoor Wear
4. Post Offices along the Camino Frances
5. American Long Distance Hiking Association’s (ALDHA-West) Gathering
6. You will probably never need this—but…foil footprint
7. Travel for Good: Volunteer in South Africa
8. Avoiding Poison Oak
9. REI Adventure Centers
10.
What is Felt?

Articles:

#1. Air New Zealand to install bunk beds?

“Air New Zealand to install ‘Skynest’ bunk bed compartments for economy, premium economy passengers from 2024.” Will it really happen? Would a 4-hour rest period be worth it? What about passengers with physical challenges? Will other airlines join in? Many questions, but an interesting direction. Read the piece here.  

#2. Best one-day hikes in New Zealand:

10 of the greatest walks you can do in a day. New destination for many of us with new thrills (when COVID restrictions allow). Three of the hikes are tied for best of the best: Tongariro Alpine Crossing, Pouakai Crossing, and Avalanche Peak. Avalanche is described “as close as you’ll get to mountaineering without the rope and crampons.” New Zealand link. Andrew Bain

#3. Getting rid of Toxic PFAS in Outdoor Wear.

 According to NRDA (National Resource Defense Council), several leading U.S. clothing brands are working to get toxic chemicals out of our clothing. Leading the way are efforts by Patagonia, American Eagle, and Ralph Loren. The products of concern, PFAS, “have been linked to serious health risks from cancer to kidney disease” and are often found in outdoor wear—especially items resistant to water and stains. (See nrdc.org/pfas for more info).

#4. Camino de Santiago: Post offices (correos) along the Camino Frances.

 Contributor Terry Sweetland sent, “To address mail to yourself put your surname first, in capitals. When you go to collect mail, take your passport as ID; and to be sure, ask them to check under your first name as well as your surname. Here’s a list of places along the Camino Francés, with postal codes, two or three days apart: 
Lista de Correos  
31080 Pamplona (Navarra)  
31100 Puenta la Reina (Navarra) 
26080 Logroño (Navarra) 
09080 Burgos 
24080 León  
24700 Astorga (León) 
24400 Ponferrada (León)  
27600 Sarria (Lugo)  
15780 Santiago de Compostela (A Coruña)
Example:
SMITH, John (Pilgrim)
Lisa de Correos
31080
Pamplona
Navarra
Spain”

#5. American Long Distance Hiking Association’s (ALDHA-West) gathering: A save-the-date.

  The Gathering 2022: Sept 23-25. Keystone, CO. This friendly and informative hiking organization also is calling for “number-type-people!” They are looking for a new treasurer at the Gathering and seek nominations. “Peaches has done an amazing job of setting our systems up for ease of use so if you’re curious but hesitant, reach out for more information.” Contact:  treasurer@aldhawest.org for more info. aldhawest.org

#6. “You will probably never need this, but…”

 I loved this headline and thought the advice well worth repeating—even if you never need to use it! Derek Koonce, trailname “Two Dogs” writes, “Through my many classes with Hug-A-Tree, [I learned that] a great way to leave a bootprint is use aluminum foil. Place a sheet on top of a few towels. Step carefully onto the aluminum foil. Roll around with the soles to get a good imprint. Carefully step off. There is now a nice set of prints. Mark with your name, if more than one person. Place in vehicle.” (used with permission).

#7. “Travel for Good Conservation Experience” with Wild Tomorrow Fund. 

I was recently at a travel adventure show and picked up a leaflet from Wild Tomorrow Fund. The organization seeks people to join them in South Africa to help with conservation of various animals: elephants, rhinos, lions, leopards, hyenas, and others that are in trouble. Projects can be efforts to help save wildlife or to help save habitat. Earlier projects with animals have involved such jobs as rhinos dehorning (so the animals will not be killed for their horns) and GPS/Radio collaring of animals, and helping at the rhino orphanage. Habitat projects could include reforestation of plant life or removing invasive plants. The upcoming 2-week trips are priced at $3,950 ($2,000 tax-deductible in the U.S.)

I can’t vouch for them because they are new to me, but it sounds like a wonderful opportunity and if you are interested in their program, you can look into it. tori@wildtomorrowfund.org or call 1-917-962-3922. Reviews at Great NonProfits Link here

elephant not in south africa Susan Alcorn ©0169

#8. Poison Oak.

 Poison Oak is a native plant that is important to wildlife, but not friendly to humans. Its toxic resin, urushiol, can cause severe rash and itching. As a preventative measure to avoid the rash, “Many veteran hikers ditch their clothes directly into the washing machine when they get home, then take a nice hot shower, a sound policy.” But, as the Mount Diablo Review (Summer/Fall 2021) points out, more casual hikers may forget that their boots may have lots of urushiol on them, lying in wait for the next time they put them on.

Because urushiol can last for months (even years), “when you get home, spray a little rubbing alcohol on your boots, including the soles, and let them air dry. Rubbing alcohol is a fast-acting solvent “rendering the urushiol harmless.” Writer Staci Hobbet, of the Mount Diablo Interpretive Association, says that many on the mountain carry alcohol swabs just in case they accidentally brush against the poison oak.

#9. REI Adventure Centers:

 There are now three Adventure Centers in the greater Bay Area: Saratoga, Sacramento, and the newest, Richmond. Many of the classes and rentals will take places at the centers rather than the box stores. Link here

susan with source of felt;

Susan Alcorn ©0169

#10. What is Felt?

Felt is a woolen fabric that is neither woven nor knitted. “When wool gets wet, the microscopic scales on individual hairs open, and with agitation, the scales interlock with other individual hairs, and interlock. This ancient process of felting is still used to make many useful products, from tents to jackets, hats, and shoes.” (Activity Guide, East Bay Regional Park District. July/August 2022).
_____
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” yahoo.com

Susan ‘backpack45’ Alcorn
Shepherd Canyon Books, Oakland, CA
susandalcorn.com
backpack45.com

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, April 2022

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales & Tips, #272, April 2022

Rose Peak on the Nifty Ninety

Hi all,
We are glad to be back, but we also just had a great trip mid-February to mid-March. We spent three weeks in Baja California: enjoying the countryside, the people, and a dream of mine coming true—going out on the pangas (small boats) at Scammon’s Lagoon and San Ignacio and getting to pet the Gray Whales. A thrilling and wonderful time—and done the way we generally prefer—as a road trip!

The photo here is from our latest overnight backpack trip, which was to Rose Peak in Alameda County, CA. This is our peak #89 of the Nifty Ninety Peak Challenge; we plan to hit #90 the end of April!

Contents Sonoma book talk and more:

1. Regional: Sunday, April 10 in Sonoma CA: Bay Area book talk with short and sweet walk following
2. Eagerly awaiting Heather Anderson’s: Adventures Awaiting
3. Condor Trail through Los Padres Ntl Forest
4. Hiking the Oregon Coast Trail — new trail guide

5. Diane Spicer has this to share
6. “Lagniappe” (a little something extra) “Bug Healing”
7. Regional: Bay Area Ridge to Bridge Event

Articles:

#1. Regional: Susan’s Bay Area book talk and walk. 

Please join us for a reading and discussion about my newest book, Walk, Hike, Saunter: Seasoned Women Share Tales and Trails at Readers’ Books in Sonoma, CA on Sunday, April 10, 2022. 10:30 for the talk and reading; 3-mile hike to follow (the hike is optional, of course). Event is free and open to all. 

Joining me will be four of the women from the book:  Inga Aksamit, Patricia Schaffarczyk, Jane Toro, and Karen Najarian. They will read a bit from their chapters, perhaps talk about their previous or upcoming hikes. I can guarantee that they will be inspiring!

A hike will follow—but note: trail changes!!! We are going to lead a hike, but due to trail restoration, we have had to change from going to the overlook (top) of Overlook Trail. We still plan to lead an easy uphill hike, but though it will start on the Overlook Trail, it will continue onto another trail (also offering great views). I plan to scout the alternate route out this week—it will be a fun walk for all of us.

Click here for trail info to find the parking lot for the HIKE, and the beginning of the Overlook Trail. I’m sure than some hikers will be fine without hiking poles, but expect some roots and rocks, so bring a pole if you’ll feel safer.  
Readers’ Books is at 130 E Napa St., Sonoma (and right off the main square).

#2. Eagerly awaiting: Adventures Awaiting.

 
Who better to teach about long distance hiking than those who have done it—multiple times, multiple places—than co-authors Heather Anderson, aka Anish, and Katie Gerber, aka Salty.

Heather earned the Triple Crown of Thru-Hiking (USA) and set the fastest known time for this in 11/08/2017.  Katie has completed many long distance hikes on the  the Pacific Crest, Appalachian, Continental Divide, Colorado, and Oregon Desert trails, and the Wind River High Route  and is a nutritionist.

Pre-order Adventures Awaiting at Heather’s website, wordsfromthewild.net Orders from that site will be autographed by Heather.

Learn:  “(How) to prepare your body and mind for the rigors of long-distance backpacking and other epic adventures,” as well as “everything an aspiring backcountry athlete needs to know for planning their first thru-hike!”

Katie focuses on food so that you can be healthy when you complete your hike rather than nutritionally depleted.

“Additionally, we dedicate an entire segment of the book to the mental and emotional preparation, maintenance, and reintegration phase of the journey. It’s commonly estimated that 75 to 85 percent of aspiring thru-hikers on the Triple Crown trails quit before reaching their goal. That’s a staggering number. So, what’s the difference between those who get to the opposite terminus and those who don’t? It’s generally not athletic ability. People of all different demographics and athletic abilities successfully complete long-distance trails.

“Backpacking is not a particularly technical sport, though it does require you to learn a particular set of skills. The primary physical component involves walking over natural surfaces with a load on your back. And though good physical fitness reduces the likelihood of injury and can make the experience more enjoyable, a backpacker always has the option to slow down or reduce mileage to ease the physical demand. The challenges unique to a multi-month backpacking trip are exposing yourself to the elements day after day and continuing to move forward when you’re tired of sleeping on a thin foam pad, sick of eating dehydrated foods, and missing your family and friends.

“Thru-hiking success comes down to the ability to endure when things get hard. There are certainly legitimate circumstances that force hikers off trail, like illness, injury, and finances, but many quit because the going gets difficult and they don’t have a strong reason for being out there. There still physically capable, but mentally they’re over it.” Excerpted from Adventure Ready page 161

Pre-Order Your Autographed Copy Now! https://wordsfromthewild.net/ Order your copy today and receive a discount on the companion online courses!”

#3. Condor Trail Guide: Hiker’s Guide to the 400 Mile Condor Trail Through Los Padres National Forest in California

 (2021) Paperback and Kindle by Brian Sarvis (Author), Bryan Conant (Contributor). Find it here

Writer Miles Griffis writes, Is California Condor Trail the Next Great Thru Hike?  Griffis tracks the trail’s origins and development—a dream to create a route that with the highlights of Los Padres National Forest (north of Los Angeles)— from the towering peaks of the Sespe Wilderness to the dense redwood stands of Big Sur—all home to the state’s iconic endangered species, the California condor. 

“…the Condor Trail is a distance hiking route that travels coastal mountain ranges and canyons deep in the backcountry of California’s central coast.” “… some areas that will test a hiker’s pathfinding ability.”

“Unlike the well-established John Muir or Pacific Crest Trails, it lacks proper signage and maintenance. But it’s loaded with sights… “…past colonies of elephant seals, and across the ancestral lands of the Chumash, Salinan, Esselen, Tataviam, and Costanoan peoples…”

bridge over columbia
Photo by Susan Alcorn

#4. “Hiking the Oregon Coast Trail

by Bonnie Henderson, published by Mountaineers Books, is the first guidebook to fully cover the 400-mile Oregon Coast Trail. “From vast beaches and lush forests to windswept bluffs and dramatic sea stacks, the stunning wild coast of Oregon is emerging as the next great long-distance hiking experience.” 

“The OCT includes 200-plus miles of publicly accessible beaches, as well as established trails through city, county, and state parks and national forest lands. “…detailed descriptions of 34 route legs with mileage, maps, resupply options, itineraries, hazards, camping or lodging options, and more.” “…even worth-while side trips.” 

You’ll also find a good overview of the trail—the good and the bad—at Treeline ReviewClick here.

#5. Diane Spicer’s newsletter includes a trekking pole article. 

There is always a lot of interesting and varied hiking information in Diane’s monthly newsletter. I was particularly interested in this article, “Are Trekking Poles Helping or Hindering Your Hiking Experience?” Ashley L. Hawke, MS; Randall L. Jensen, PhD. (REVIEW ARTICLE| VOLUME 31, ISSUE 4, P482-488, DECEMBER 01, 2020.) Click here to read

You can find out more about Diane at her website, and from Walk, Hike, Saunter, where she wrote about her hiking experiences in her own chapter.

#6. A little something extra: Chimpanzees Appear to Use Insects to Treat Their Wounds.


In a first, chimps in Gabon were seen applying insects to sores on themselves—and others, a possible show of empathy. Fascinating article by Corryn Wetzel, Daily Correspondent, in Smithsonian Magazine.

The multiple observations were seen in Gabon—involving adult chimps catching flying insects (which might have antiseptic features), smashing the bugs in their mouth, creating a paste, and then applying it to not only their own children or other relatives, but also other members of their group. February 8, 2022 article click here. 

#7. Regional: San Francisco Bay Area: Register now for Ridge to Bridge 2022!


Registration is officially open for the Ridge Trail’s most exciting signature annual event, Ridge to Bridge 2022! Ridge to Bridge is a trail adventure for hikers, runners, mountain bikers, and equestrians with two ways to participate this year: At an in-person supported event on April 30th in the Marin Headlands or with the self-guided version, ongoing March 1st — April 30th.

In-Person Adventure: April 30th: “Join us for a beautiful springtime trail outing through the iconic Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) including Fort Baker, the Marin Headlands, and Muir Beach. We will support your selected route with trail maps and tips, signature swag, resting points with snacks, and a trail-side catered lunch in Tennessee Valley to keep you energized!”

“Self-Guided Adventure: March 1st – April 30th. Ridge to Bridge 2022 also offers a self-guided adventure for runners, hikers, bikers, and equestrians with curated trail options in each Bay Area county with multiple distances to choose from. Complete trail outings on your own schedule and at your own pace.  Details can be found at RidgeTrail.com

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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” yahoo.com

Susan ‘backpack45’ Alcorn
Shepherd Canyon Books, Oakland, CA
susandalcorn.com
backpack45.com

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.