Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales and Tips, January 2022

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales and Tips, #270, January 2022

Hi everyone, Happy New Year!

Tule elk at Pierce Point, Point Reyes Ntl. Seashore, Marin, CA

#1. Pilgrim guidebook author Beebe Bahrami and her wolf encounter
#2. Snowshoeing and backpacking adventures with Yosemite Conservancy
#3. Are Monarch Butterflies Recovering?
#4. SYMG (Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides)
#5. 600-mile trail underway in the Sierra
#6. 2022 Pilgrim gathering and Hospitalero training coming up
#7. ALDHA-West info
#8. S.F. Bay Area Regional hikes: DIY in Point Reyes to see  Snowy Plover? Tule Elk? Coho Salmon?

Articles:
#1. Beebe Bahrami shares her wolf encounter story.
Beebe is known and beloved by many for her Camino guidebooks including The Spiritual Traveler Spain—A Guide to Sacred Sites and Pilgrim Routes (Paulist Press), Historic Walking Guides: Madrid(DestinWorld Publishing), and her newest— Moon Camino de Santiago (Avalon Travel/Hachette Book Group). She was one of the chapters (what the women of the book are calling themselves!) in my Walk, Hike, Saunter where she enticed to learn more of the story about her encounter with a wolf while hiking on a narrow path near Luarca on the Camino del Norte.

How lucky we are that her story has now been published with Perceptive Travel and I appreciate that she is sharing it with us here. “Time evaporated and space dissolved, as did the wolf’s agitation and mine. I felt the air molecules and the earth between us lose all barriers and meld and weave a profound interconnectedness, what I can only call communion.” Read on…  https://www.perceptivetravel.com/issues/0122/asturias.html.

#2. Snowshoeing and Backpacking Adventures with Yosemite Conservancy: “Experience the quiet beauty of winter in the park during a day of hiking or snowshoeing at Badger Pass, Dewey Point, Yosemite Valley, or the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias.” I can attest to what beautiful scenery you will have whether it’s on an evening full moon hike or a daytime forest ramble. Yosemite Conservancy has a partnership with the park and they offer excursions for those of all levels of expertise—beginner to advanced. Learn more and register here. https://yosemite.org/experience/outdoor-adventures/

#3. Seemingly Headed for Extinction in 2020, Western Monarchs Boom Back in 2021. Daniel Roman in Bay Nature (December 8, 2021) writes, “Since 1997, volunteers organized by the conservation group Xerces Society have counted western monarchs over Thanksgiving at the butterflies’ overwintering sites around coastal California, as part of the Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count.’

They collect data from more than 200 monitoring sites. In 2020, the count hit an all-time low — less than 2,000 monarchs — a number Bay Nature reported last year, that “represents an astonishing continuation of the near-total collapse of the western migratory population of the species over the last few decades.”

But this season’s numbers are encouraging and the changes significant. In 2020, three important overwintering sites in  along the California coast—Pacific Grove, Pismo Beach, and Big Sur— had fewer than 300 butterflies total. This season (2021—2022) more than 10,000 monarchs were counted.

Why this rebound is unknown, but there are a couple of theories. One hypothesis is that this year’s boom is due to an influx of monarchs from the eastern migratory population — which typically migrates between Mexico and the United States and Canada east of the Rocky Mountains — joining western monarchs, thereby adding to the population.

What seems more likely, however, is good luck — a chance happening of good weather at the right time and other factors. The Xerces Society researchers wrote that, like other insects, “’monarchs [numbers] fluctuate from year to year in response to the temperature, rainfall, the availability of food, and other factors.’”

“A single adult female can lay 300 eggs, which multiplies with each of the monarchs’ typically four of five breeding generations in a year. So, if it’s a good year, with good weather, monarchs can produce a lot of offspring.”

In conclusion, it’s very good news, but there’s no guarantee that the monarch population has recovered. We have far to go to again see the numbers we had in the 1980’s — when millions of monarchs overwintered in California.  

You can subscribe to Bay Nature at https://baynature.org/ Meanwhile, people can help by continuing to create and improve butterfly habitat— planting native milkweed and flowers that provide nectar, and reducing pesticide use.

#4. Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides has been in business for 30 years and this year’s trips look as exciting as ever! SYMG sends season’s greetings! Their trips, often using pack animals to reduce what you have to carry, take you to what they describe as “arguably one of the most beautiful places on earth, Yosemite National Park and the High Sierra!”

Here’s a sampling:
“JMT: Rae Lakes Loop: Backpacking: Explore a famous section of the John Muir Trail. We’ll navigate the Rae Lakes Loop through the wilderness of King’s Canyon National Park. Along the way we’ll tackle Glen Pass and camp in the Rae Lakes…”

“Mt Whitney w/ Horsepack Support. Pack Supported Trekking. Climb Mt Whitney and the remote backcountry wilderness of Sequoia National Park! Pack stock will ease our burden as we travel between camps along scenic high-country sections of the famous John Muir Trail and Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail…” Website is https://www.symg.com/

#5. Lost Sierra Route: Wow! Guy Joaquin, co-coordinator of the Northern California Pilgrim group, shared this exciting news for hikers. The facebook link is here.  “Just heard of this amazing project underway: a 600-mile, multi-use trail connecting 15 Northern California and Nevada mountain towns from Truckee and Reno to Susanville.

“After reading this article, I watched a few videos online from the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship who are leading the charge. Their plans include routing the trails though the towns, instead of away, to connect users with the local communities and businesses so there will be accommodations and other support services. In other words, it could be very Camino-like. There is even a passport and stamp program in the works! Definitely something to keep an eye on and even maybe support.” Link to the trail project here. https://sierratrails.org/connected-communities/

#6. Camino Gathering and Hospitalero Training. “Get Prepared for the 2022 Gathering!” Dave Donselar, Chair of the 2022 Gathering, shares the details. The 2022 Annual Gathering of Pilgrims is will be held in Alexandria, VA. “This will be American Pilgrims on the Camino’s 25th year of gathering pilgrims together and we look forward to seeing you at the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly in Black Mountain, NC (near Asheville) from March 31 to April 3, 2022.

“Registration will open in early January. Members will be notified when registration opens. Visit the American Pilgrims’ website americanpilgrims.org for additional details on the program including the most recent draft of the program, the cost, accommodations options, and the most up-to-date health precautions as we complete our preparations. Also be sure to check for email updates from American Pilgrims . . . we’ll be sending out updates before the event!

“Hospitalero Corner: Training. Hospitalero Trainings are starting again in 2022. The first one will be March 29-31 immediately preceding the 2022 Annual Gathering in Black Mountain, NC. Watch our website for updated information. Registration will open in early January”

#7. Info about the Triple Crown of Hiking: You hear about it—an award for hiking the of the Pacific Crest, Continental Divide, and Appalachian trails. ALDHA-West, the organization that presents the award, gives some specifics for how you can tackle the challenge. “Happy New Year! As we enter into 2022, we will continue to dedicate our Tuesday posts for the next several weeks to address FAQs about the Triple Crown. Q: “Does it matter how I hiked the trail? Section hikes over multiple years, thru-hike, etc.?

A: “Nope. As long as you have hiked each trail in its entirety, section, thru, or flip-flop doesn’t matter.” Follow them on Facebook to read further information as it appears. 

#8. Great time to visit Marin County. Perhaps you are looking for a great hike that is short and sweet? Look no farther than one of these:
Abbotts Lagoon in Pt. Reyes National Park. This is an easy hike out to the ocean, which can be extended either north or south depending on whether you want or continue on flat or hill terrain. Trailhead is along the Pierce Point Road. The lagoon draws many kinds of birds—this time of year, Snowy Plover are reportedly nesting in the sand. https://www.pointreyesnature.com/blog/2020/9/19/western-snowy-plover

Pierce Point in Pt. Reyes. This is a moderate hike, out and back, on a dirt trail along the northernmost point of the Pt. Reyes peninsula. As you hike out to see the resident Tule Elk, you’ll be walking with the Pacific Ocean on the west side and Tomales Bay on the east. To the endpoint, Tomales Point, is about 10 miles round trip, but you’ll see the elk long before that. Google maps here.  

Lagunitas Creek/Samuel P. Taylor State Park. Easy. This is the location of the last notable wild Coho Salmon population in the Bay Area. The salmon this year were able to migrate from nearby Tomales Bay.

The females are in the process of building their nests (redd), which they do by swimming on their sides, arching their backs, and using their tails to smooth out the underwater gravel. When the female is content with her redd, she releases pheromones, which is a signal  indicating she is ready to lay her eggs. It’s also a signal to the males to approach to fertilize them — which they need to do quickly as the eggs are only viable for a few seconds.

To see them, you can go on your own; it’s best to go when  it’s less crowded on weekdays. Look for the salmon in the vicinity of the Leo T. Cronin Fish Viewing Area. Better yet, to get a better idea of where to look, and what the behaviors mean, sign up for a guided tour with the Salmon Protection and Watershed Network (SPAWN) part of the Turtle Island Restoration Network in Lagunitas. Tours are available on weekends Jan 9 to 30—and they will fill quickly. (Eventbrite/click here.) 
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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
https://www.susandalcorn.com
https://www.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, December 2021

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales and Tips, #269 December 2021

Hi everyone,
Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Sorry if you’ve gotten any extra emails about our newsletters. It’s because of our change to wordpress for sending out the newsletter through my website www.susandalcorn.com We have a few more things to learn!

Contents:
#1. Three Books I Highly Recommend:
#2. “Footprints the People”— Barbara Anderson’s humorous podcast on hiking
#3. At 83, ‘Nimblewill Nomad’ Sets Record on the Appalachian Trail
#4. Camino: Train schedule (new service) Madrid to Galicia. 
#5. Andrew Skurka: Have fun while learning about backpacking from an expert
#6. Camino news: Yikes! Part of the arch at San Anton fell on a school bus
#7. The youngest calendar year triple crowners!
Regional San Francisco Bay Area:
#8.New Year’s Day Sonoma County Hike
#9. Bay Area Ridge Trail: Peninsula. Skyline College to Mussel Beach.
#10: Reminder: King Tides on coastal areas

Articles:
#1. A. Three books I can recommend: First is my Walk, Hike, Saunter: Seasoned Women Hikers Share Tales and Trails, which would be perfect for anyone who enjoys an inspiring, interesting, and entertaining book full of stories of adventuresome women. All of the 32 women are 45 or older—some have been “firsts” in the hiking world, all are excellent role models that have much to offer newer hikers. Link here

Heather Anderson’s latest newsletter announced that she has now received the 4th printing of her book, Thirst: 2600 miles to home. She also is offering a course in January called, “FKT 101: Basics for Planning and Completing your First Fastest Known Time Course.” Link here

From her website, “National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, Heather Anderson is the only woman who has completed the Appalachian, Pacific Crest and Continental Divide National Scenic Trails each three times. This includes her historic Calendar Year Triple Crown hike in 2018 when she hiked all three of those trails in one March-November season, making her the first female to do so.

“She also holds the overall self-supported Fastest Known Time (FKT) on the Pacific Crest Trail (2013)–hiking it in 60 days, 17 hours, 12 min, which broke the previous men’s record by four days….” “She also holds the female, self-supported FKT on the Appalachian Trail (2015) in a time of 54 days, 7 hours, 48 minutes, and the Arizona Trail (2016) which she completed in 19 days, 17 hours, 9 minutes.”

Yosemite Complete Hiking Guide by Elizabeth Wenk is out! This book includes every trail in the park and many in adjacent wilderness areas—more than 1,000 miles of trail. As with the previous edition, there is a detailed introduction to the park’s natural history, human history, and of course planning material, most of it entirely rewritten. In addition, there are new maps for every hike. There are lots of new geology and biology sidebars to enhance the trail descriptions. Link here.   (Thank you, Jaunting Jan for the news!).

#2. “Footprints the People” is an entertaining podcast with Barbara Anderson (contributor to Walk, Hike, Saunter). She writes, “thought you might enjoy or possibly laugh at my interview for a British podcast on Long Distance walking….. “Footprints The People Podcast Barbara Anderson ” GOOGLE if you cannot reach Spotify. Link here.

#3. 83 year-old ‘Nimblewill Nomad’ Sets Record on the Appalachian Trail. M.J. Eberhart, better known to hikers as Nimblewill Nomad, hiked into Dalton, Mass., on Sunday, November 7 to become the oldest known person to hike the roughly 2,190-mile trail miles of trail from Georgia to Maine. 

“Eighty percent of it is mental grit,” he said. “And that is why so many people fail.” He was celebrated by many at the finish line, including former record holder “Grey Beard,” (Dale Sanders, now 86) who had held the title since 2017. Grey Beard had driven up from his home in Tennessee to walk the final miles with Nimblewill Nomad

Nimblewill Nomad did the entire hike, in sections, in one year. He actually began hiking from his home in Alabama, which is further back—doing day hikes—until he reached Georgia to jump on the AT on March 1, 2021. He averaged about 10 miles a day. He had previously completed the AT twice—1998 and 2001-2. There’s more in an article by Christine Hauser in the New York Times. Link here. 

Earl Shaffer is the first known person to hike the entire length of the Appalachian Trail in one, continuous journey, which he did in 1948.

#4. Camino interest: Train schedule (new service) Madrid to Galicia. Follow the link to the schedule. The labels at the top of each train schedule can be confusing, so here are their meanings:
LMXJ — means Monday through Friday
LMXJS — Monday through Saturday
LMXJD – Monday through Friday and Sunday
diario — daily
Link to credit 

#5. Andrew Skurka Adventures: “Our 2022 trip schedule is now available. April/May: Grand Staircase-Escalante in southern Utah; May: Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado; June/July: Gates of the Arctic National Park, Brooks Range, Alaska; July: High Sierra, California; September: Olympic National Park, Washington (new for 2022); October: West Virginia during peak fall colors.”

If you aren’t acquainted with Andrew Skurka, here’s info about him: “I’m an outdoor athlete, writer, and guide. In my twenties I hiked 30,000+ miles from sea to sea, around the West, and in Alaska. Since then I started a guide …” from his website at https://andrewskurka.com

Apply for a 2022 trip starting Monday, December 13, 2021 [places will fill fast]. 
Benefit from:
“Next-level instruction. We will help you develop the skills and knowledge necessary to lead the group and to undertake similar trips of your own in the future. The learning starts months before with our Plan Like A Pro course, and continues with an extensive field curriculum.
“Expert guides. We combine extensive first-hand backpacking experience with excellent people skills, relate-able family and work lives, and a passion for teaching and for our trip locations. It’s truly an all-star team.
“World-class locations. Our venues are among my all-time favorite spots, and we know where to find spectacular scenery, refreshing swimming holes, fascinating archeological sites, blissful off-trail travel, and secluded campsites.
“Cohesive groups. We painstakingly match applicants who have similar physical abilities and outdoor experience, and we try to give each group a balance of genders, ages, and other biographical details. Our groups frequently feel like “tramilies” and plan trips together afterwards.”

#6. Camino news: Yikes! Part of the arch at San Anton (on the Francés route) fell and landed on a school bus. Luckily no one was injured. Article here.  

#7. 21-Year-Olds, Sammy Potter and Jackson Parell, Just Became the Youngest Calendar-Year Triple Crowners. To make their way through the challenges of weather, they bounced around on the three trails — over 7,000 miles of hiking that covers the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail. 

They started on January 1, 2021 on the Appalachian Trail’s southern end at Springer Mountain. In February the moved over to the Continental Divide in New Mexico; they moved over to do a section of the Pacific Crest Trail headed south from Kennedy Meadows. They finished their record-setting hike on October 22, 2021. There is more to the story, which you can read at link here

Flyin’ Brian Robinson was the first person to complete a Calendar-Year Triple Crown in 2001. And, as mentioned earlier, Heather “Anish” Anderson, was the first woman to do so.

Regional Bay Area:
#8. Jack London State Historic Park First Day Hike. The park, in California’s Sonoma Valley, kicks off the new year with Ninth Annual First Day Hike – January 1, 2022.  The trek can be either a personal challenge to make it to the park summit or the first step in a commitment to a healthier new year.  Either way, it is designed for all fitness levels with guides to help hikers return to the parking lot at any time. First Day Hikes are held throughout the country, supported by America’s State Parks, and at parks statewide with California State Parks.

The hike begins at 10 a.m. and will conclude at around 2:30 p.m. The roundtrip route is eight miles long and moderately strenuous. Participants will meet in the Ranch parking lot, to the right of the park’s entrance kiosk.  The hike will be cancelled in the event of rain.

Reservations are required https://jacklondonpark.com/events/ and can be made at First Day Hike 2022 | Jack London State Historic Park (jacklondonpark.com). Tickets are $10 per person, in addition to $10 per car entry fee (up to nine passengers).  (Thank you Laurie Armstrong Gossy for the news.) Photo: Jack London’s Wolf House.

#9. Bay Area Ridge Trail. While waiting for longer days to complete the Nifty Ninety Peak Challenge, we are enjoying doing sections of the Bay Area Ridge Trail. Our most recent hike was on the S.F. Peninsula in Pacifica. What a delightful segment—from Skyline College to Mussel Beach. Short as most of the sections are, but from our start at the southern end of the walk, we went through the GGNRA Milagra Park, with displays with information about the former Nike Launch site that was there during the Cold War era of the 40s and 50s, and then onward along wonderfully well-groomed trails that took us to a spiral (related to a labyrinth) with outstanding views all along. Then down the hillside to walk along the cliffs above the ocean north to the end at the picturesque Mussel Rock. It’s about 4.5 miles, but we did a bit more to see the off-trail views. Easy, going north is downhill.

#10. REMINDER: King Tides near you? “A King Tide is a non-scientific term people often use to describe exceptionally high tides. Tides are long-period waves that roll around the planet as the ocean is “pulled” back and forth by the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun as these bodies interact with the Earth in their monthly and yearly orbits. Higher than normal tides typically occur during a new or full moon and when the Moon is at its perigee, or during specific seasons around the country.” National Ocean Service info. 

Here’s a Bay Area walk you can take with Berkeley Path Wanderers: “King Tides Walk: History and Rising Seas.” When: Sunday, Dec. 5, 10 a.m. Leader: Susan Schwartz. Sea Breeze Market, 598 University Ave., Berkeley.

“During one of winter’s highest tides, enjoy a relaxed loop around Berkeley’s restored “meadow,” with short spurs. We will walk rain or shine. Dress in layers for quick-changing weather, and expect puddles, muddy or even flooded paths, and crossing a construction site. Sorry, no dogs allowed in part of the area we will cross.
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Thank you everyone; enjoy your holidays. 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

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
Camino Chronicle: Walking to Santiago
We’re in the Mountains Not over the Hill: Tales and Tips from Seasoned Women Backpackers
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, June 2021

 
Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales and Tips, #264. June 2021
 
View from Berryessa Peak Trail, CA
View from Berryessa Peak Trail, CA #NiftyNinety (Ralph Alcorn)

For all its material advantage, the sedentary life has left us edgy, unfulfilled.  Even after 400 generations in villages and cities, we haven’t forgotten.  The open road still softly calls. Carl Sagan 
(Thanks, Marcia Powers, for reminding us of this great quotation.)

Contents:

1. Redwood SkyWalk, Eureka, CA
2. Jenner Headland Preserve
3. REI opening up more classes and events
4. Strength training and you
5. Food for thought — healthy hiking
6. No ferry across Edison Lake to Vermilion resort
7. Colour the trails
8. Update on our Nifty Ninety Peaks challenge
9. Dirty Girl Gaiters 
Read More