Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales & Tips, August, 2022

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales & Tips, August 2022

 
pct fire
Susan and Ralph on the PCT, Burney Falls to Oregon section, 2007

If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine, it’s lethal.”  Paulo Coelho
“Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” Terry Pratchett. Thanks to Joyce Bender for sending these uplifting quotes.

Contents:

1. Arlette Laan and the Eleven U.S. National Scenic Trails
2. Susan to be interviewed by Sierra Club Bay Chapter, Aug. 12
3. PCT and Sierra Fires Wreak Havoc
4. Safety Measures on the Camino de Santiago

5. PCT Trail Days
6. Treeline Review of Headlamps
7, Choosing a Good Sunscreen

Articles:


#1. Arlette Laan“Apple Pie”, age 50, recently completed all 11 of the US National Scenic Trails!

 That is the Appalachian Trail: 2,190 miles; Arizona Trail 800 miles; Continental Divide Trail: 3,100 miles; Florida Trail: 1,300 miles; Ice Age Trail: 1,000 miles; Natchez: 65 miles; New England Trail: 215 miles; North Country Trail: 4,600 miles; Pacific Crest Trail: 2,650 miles; Pacific Northwest Trail: 1,200 miles; Potomac Heritage Trail: 710 miles. That totals 17,830 miles.  Way to Go!!!!

She has also completed about the same number of miles on other famous trails including New Zealand’s Te Araroa and Nepal’s Annapurna Circuit.
Read more: Backpacker online
and here: WPR 
Watch: Here on youtube

#2. Susan will be interviewed on Sierra Club, Bay Chapters’ “Green Friday.”

 Register here to RSVP and receive the link to the ZOOM meeting on Friday, August 12, 2022. 7:30 P.M. (The interview will be recorded on YouTube). Susan will be interviewed by Victoria Tishman Kamerzell, and will discuss researching, writing, and publishing her hiking books, particularly the most recent, Walk, Hike, Saunter: Seasoned Women Share Tales and Tips. This is an opportunity to hear more about some of the highly adventurous hiking women in our midst.

#3. PCT and Sierra Disastrous Fires.

 Unfortunately wildfires are hitting the West hard again; here’s some of what’s going on.
California: The McKinney and China 2 Fires in far Northern California. The McKinney Fire is burning north of Etna and Fort Jones, California. The China 2 Fire is burning ~2 miles west of the community Seiad Valley. The weather conditions, including lots of lightning, are leading to extreme fire behavior and dangerous conditions.

California Fire on PCT 

Seiad Valley Fire near the PCT when we were there in July 2007. Scary stuff!

The McKinney fire (click here) in Klamath National Forest (reported 8/4/22) has grown to 58,668 Acres and is 10% contained. It is now the largest fire in California to date this year. Some residential areas in the City of Yreka received evacuation notices on July 30. There have been four fatalities near residences.

A 110 mile section of the PCT is closed by the Forest Service. The closure is from Etna Summit (mile 1600) in Northern California to Mt. Ashland Campground (~mile 1710) in Southern Oregon.

At least twenty PCT hikers were rescued from within the area and transported by the Medford, OR are Rogue Valley Transportation District buses to Ashland area. More info here.

The PCT Association published this map, click here of the closure.
Recent rain slowed the fire’s progress earlier this week, but that didn’t solve all the problems, however, because lightning, temperatures exceeding 105 degrees, and winds can contribute to the problems. That, combined with low relative humidity and dry vegetation have caused further Red Flag warnings from the National Weather Service.
Evacuations and closures:
Check Facebook pages of the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office and Siskiyou County Office of Emergency Services. Additional evacuation information and map can be found on the Zonehaven website. A shelter has been established at the Weed Community Center, 161 E Lincoln Ave., Weed, CA 96094.
Highway 96 remains closed through the fire area. Click here for current conditions. 
Elsewhere in California: Earlier, people from around the world were watching the reports about the Washburn fire and Oak Fires, both near Yosemite National Park and at the height of the summer visitations. Both fires resulted in highway closures and evacuations. The Washburn was centered in the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias in Yosemite National Park. 

The cause of this fire is under investigation, so a tip line has been established. “If you were near the Mariposa Grove on July 7, 2022, please contact NPS Investigative Services Branch (ISB). Call or text (888) 653-0009. Email: nps_isb@nps.gov  Online, go here

Visitors, residents, and others are also following the Oak Fire, which is currently burning west of Yosemite in the Mariposa/Midpines area. Info here  or by calling 844-MMU-FIRE (844-668-3473). For information about air quality, visit airnow.gov.

Closures and reopenings: Highway 140 through Mariposa County to Yosemite National Park has reopened to all lanes of traffic. Please drive carefully as fire suppression vehicles and equipment are still in the area. Wawona Road (Highway 41) reopened on Saturday, July 23. Wawona (including the Wawona Hotel and vacation rentals) was scheduled to the public on Thursday, July 28, at noon.  “The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias and the Wawona Campground remain closed due to the Washburn fire.”

All other areas of Yosemite are open, but as part of the effort already in effect to reduce congestion in the park during the summer, a reservation is required to drive into the park if arriving between 6 a.m. and 4 p.m.”

Oregon:
 Oregon is also seeing many forest fires. Mostly as a result of lightning strikes and extreme heat. Of particular concern to hikers, some have triggered scattered evacuation warnings, closed a 60-mile section of the Pacific Crest Trail near Crater Lake and shut down some campgrounds.

For PCT hikers that is: from Oregon 138 (mile 1,848 at the northern boundary of Crater Lake National Park) to Oregon 58 (mile 1,908 at Willamette Pass). 
Other PCT trail closures: pcta.org/discover-the-trail/closures/

Basilica in Vezelay, France. Beginning of a Camino route to Santiago.

#4. Safety Measures for the Camino de Santiago Routes.

“There is continuing concern about incidents affecting female pilgrims. We reiterate the advice given by a number of pilgrim associations. “Before you set out, programme the emergency number 112 into your telephone.
“If you feel threatened or uncomfortable or if you are assaulted in any way try to remove yourself to a place of safety immediately.
“Call the police – the best number to use is 112, which covers all of Portugal (and much of Europe) and which has operators who speak English.
“And please report all incidents to the police. Too many of these unlawful aggressions are never reported, which means that the full extent of the problem is hidden from the authorities.” These reminders were posted by “Wayfarer” wayfarer, moderator on the Camino forum, Jul 21, 2022

#5. Pacific Crest Trail Days: August 19-21.

 And now for some fun: “This is an annual summer festival at Cascade Locks (alongside the Columbia River on the Oregon/Washington border). “The event celebrates and promotes hiking, camping, backpacking & outdoor stewardship.  Attendees can participate in activities, games, & presentations, win awesome gear at the raffle, and get great deals on the latest outdoor products from sponsors at the Gear Demo and Marketplace.  If you’re into car camping, day hiking, long distance hiking, or just curious, a wide-range of gear and info will be here!  Don’t miss out on a great time at the 15th annual PCT DAYS, located in the Marine Park of Cascade Locks,  Oregon…the heart of the Columbia River Gorge!

“PCT DAYS is free to attend, with a fee for overnight camping.  All raffle proceeds support the American Long Distance Hiking Association-West and Pacific Crest Trail Assoc.   Vendors will be offering great food, coffee, beer and non-alcoholic beverages.  No drone cameras, dogs, glass or alcohol may be brought to PCT DAYS and parking outside of the Marine Park is free.”

#6. Treeline Reviews on headlamps.

 Read the reviews here. Also in the article reviewing headlamps, Treeline had this significant information to add: “Getting outdoors remains the center of what we do: Despite running this website, we make being outside a priority. While running Treeline Review, our co-founder Naomi Hudetz was the first person to thru-hike the Blue Mountains Trail. Additionally, we’ve hiked the Oregon Desert Trail, Ouachita Trail, and Arizona Trail.”
Susan adds: Naomi was one of the women I featured in “Walk, Hike, Saunter: Seasoned Women Share Tales and Trails.” 

#7. Lathering on the Sunscreen.

 Excerpts from Kaiserpermanente’s “Summer sunscreen guide: Learn how to avoid common sunscreen mistakes” Click here.
Q: “What SPF should you use? A: Many people think that SPF, or sun protection factor, represents how much time you can wear a product before applying it again. But that’s not true. SPF measures how much UV radiation a sunscreen can absorb before it stops working.” Sarah Adams, MD, FAAD, a dermatologist with Kaiser Permanente in Southern California, says, “For me, the magic number is 30. SPF 30 blocks 97% of the UVB rays that cause sunburn. Anything above that only offers a little more protection — and nothing can block 100% of UVB rays.”

Adams adds:
Apply sunscreen at least every 2 hours, plus after going in the water.
“Waterproof” is not really waterproof — reapply when you go in the water.
Moisturizers with SPF work, but apply enough.
Separate sunscreen products and moisturizers is usually a better plan. 
Chemical sunscreen absorbs rays within your skin cells, like a filter. Mineral sunscreen blocks sun rays by sitting on top of your skin, and will contain active ingredients such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. “‘Both protect you from sun damage, says Adams, and there’s no clear evidence that one is better for your health or more effective than the other.”
It should be a broad-spectrum product “to protect against both UVA rays, which contribute to premature aging, and UVB rays, which cause burning — and can lead to cancer.” 
Some destinations, like Hawaii, have laws against chemical sunscreen to avoid damage to coral reefs. Check regulations before you travel. 
See your dermatologist about possible sun damage if you notice new growths, bleeding, scabbing, or itching. 
Check the expiration dates on products
Store products in cool places rather than in your car’s glovebox, etc. 
There is much more information and explanation online, click here. (JUN 16, 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, 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.

Book Talk and Walk in Sonoma

walk hike saunter book cover image for book talk and walk in sonomaApril 10, 2022. 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).

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales & Tips, February 2022

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales and Tips, #271, February 2022

Contents:
1. Yosemite news: volunteering, jobs, and activities
2. Hospitalero Training
3. Gossamer Gear’s blog
4. Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics for the Camino de Santiago
5. What you should know about Banana Slugs
6. Regional: Susan’s Bay Area book talk with walk following

Articles:
#1. Items from the Yosemite Conservancy Newsletter of January 2022. If you are heading for Yosemite in the next few months, check current road conditions and tire chain restrictions by calling (209) 372-0200 (press 1, then 1).

“In other news, we’re hiring a Staff Accountant (based in San Francisco), an Outdoor Programs Coordinator (based in Yosemite), and a Marketing Coordinator (location flexible). Know someone who’d be a good fit for our team? Click here to apply

In addition “Volunteer in Yosemite in 2022: Enjoy a week in the park while completing physical restoration projects including trail repairs, habitat rehabilitation, and more by joining a Work Week Crew. Spend a month sharing your Yosemite knowledge to help visitors navigate and enjoy the park as a Visitor Information Assistant. Apply Now. Click here for volunteering.

Yosemite Conservancy has many custom adventures and virtual adventures. Here are their “upcoming winter adventures in the park. February 12: Winter Hike in Mariposa Grove; February 15: Full Moon Snowshoe Hike #2; February 19: Winter Hike in Mariposa Grove.” These may be full, but there will be more during the year. info@yosemite.org and  www.yosemite.org

#2. Camino Hospitalero Training, March 29-31, 2022. Registration is open for the first Hospitalero Training session of 2022! This is right before the Annual Gathering of Pilgrims as mentioned in my January newsletter (March 31, 2022 – April 4, 2022). The training session will be held at the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly in Black Mountain, NC (near Asheville).

Schedule: Check-in: 4:00 PM on Tuesday, March 29, 2022—Training complete: 5:00 PM on Thursday, March 31, 2022. “You must attend the entire training session to be certified!  Make your travel plans accordingly! If you plan to attend the Gathering there is a separate registration. Follow this link for Gathering information.

“Checklist: Do you want to learn what it takes to become a hospitalero supporting other pilgrims on the road to Santiago? To attend you must: Have walked at least 100 km or biked at least 200 km of the Camino. Have stayed in at least 3 non-private albergues. Be a current member of American Pilgrims on the Camino. Be at least 18 years old by March 28, 2022. Provide proof of COVID vaccination plus the Booster. Note: all attendees are required to wear masks during the training.”

Click here. to register for Hospitalero Training or questions to: hospitalerotraining@americanpilgrims.org

#3. Short film on the incredible hiker, Anish—and more from Gossamergear.com A wealth of articles in Gossamer Gear’s blog: This month, I particularly enjoyed  the new film on Heather Anderson’s (aka Anish) Thru-Hiking FKT Journey AND Korrin Bishop’s “7 Tips to Quiet Your Mind While Hiking or Backpacking.”  https://www.gossamergear.com/blogs/our-blog

#4. Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics for the Camino de Santiago. Important reading for Camino-bound travelers. https://lnt.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Leave-No-Trace-Camino-Version_FINAL_2020.pdf

#5. What you should know about Banana Slugs. I have to admit that banana slugs are not my favorite critter, but they are interesting. So, did you know that they are soft-bodied creatures without a backbone and are mollusks related to snails and sea slugs? They are gastropods. You probably haven’t one seen a nose sticking out—that’s because it breathes through what is called a pneumostome, a breathing hole on its side leading to its one lung.

They are native to North America and they generally can be found in habitats offering shaded and damp conditions. They travel on the trail of slime they produce; the slime protects their body and discourages predators because the slime tastes bitter and can make one’s tongue feel numb for a moment.  

At the front, they have two sets of tentacles: the upper set is sensitive to light; the lower set is for smelling and feeling. It used to be that teachers and others would encourage students and other visitors to parks to kiss a slug, but this is no longer recommended because the slime can carry parasitic worms and mites, plus lotions humans might have on their hands can be harmful to the slugs. More info in Bay Nature Magazine.  Click here to read

#6. Regional: Susan’s Bay Area book talk and walk. Save the date (and confirm closer on because we all know dates for events sometimes change), but currently we are scheduled to give a book event in Sonoma, CA on Sunday, April 10, 2022. 10:30 for the talk and reading; 3-mile hike to follow.

Details are developing, but what I am hoping for are a couple of the women from Walk, Hike Saunter: Seasoned Women Share Tales and Trail to join in and read from their chapters OR talk about their upcoming hikes. I can guarantee that they will be inspiring!

Following the talk, we plan to lead a gentle hike to an overlook in a local open space with a terrific view of not only Sonoma, but also south to San Francisco and more. Readers’ Books is at 130 E Napa St., Sonoma (and right off the main square). Click here for trail info. We scouted out the trail recently and found that it can be done without hiking poles, but there are some roots and rocks, so bring a pole if you’ll feel safer. 
~~~~~~~~~
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 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.