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. 
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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.

COVID Insurance! and “Safe Galicia Destination”

 
WOW! Galicia (the “autonomous community” where Santiago de Compostela is) is providing free #Covid insurance for travelers who stay at certain establishments in Galicia. You automatically qualify for the insurance by staying in these accommodations. The Xunta is including this insurance as part of its “#Galicia #Safe #Destination” tourism campaign.
 
From the website:
“If you come to Galicia, you’ll be safe for sure! During your holiday in Galicia, you’ll be covered by the new COVID-19 travel insurance.

“Galicia, a safe destination we welcome you to visit.
Tourists and pilgrims have extra protection. Galicia is the safe choice for your holidays.

 
Who can use it?
This initiative is free for visitors and pilgrims both from Spain and abroad who are not resident in Galicia.
 
Extra protection!
To benefit from this insurance, you don’t need to apply, you only have to be staying at a regulated establishment in Galicia. The insurance is activated automatically.
 
Complementary coverage and services
  • Medical, surgical, pharmaceutical and hospitalisation expenses due to COVID-19.
  • Medical repatriation and repatriation in the event of death due to COVID-19.
  • Extended stay on account of COVID-19 quarantine.

The affected party will have to report the disease by calling +34 915 149 959 “

Of course travelers will still have to weigh the risks of travel in general, but at least if one becomes ill, there is some extra medical coverage here.  

 
 

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

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales and Tips,  #263 May 2021

Contents:
1.Going greener
2. Space Dust
3. COVID-19 on Everest!
4. SMG guides
5.  JMT hikers: Map of the Eastern Sierra transportation connections
6. Valuable transit info for John Muir Trail hikers
7. How accurate are manufacturers’ specs for backpack capacity?
8. Regional: SF Bay Area Ridge Trail: Ridge to Bridges
9. Regional: Berkeley Path Wanderers and its public service

Articles:
#1. Going greener: As I was looking at a review of a new book, Imagine It!: A Handbook for a Happier Planet (Laurie David), I read a hint — to replace paper towel usage by buying a product called Skoy Cloth. Machine washable, etc. “One machine-washable Skoy Cloth can absorb 16 times its own weight and is equivalent to 15 rolls of paper towels. $9 for four, at containerstore.com.”  The Skoy cloth is described as a Swedish, eco-friendly alternative to a kitchen sponge or paper towels.

We started our own campaign last Christmas. We purchased a bag of terry cloth pieces, washcloth sized, at our local Ace Hardware. We put a clean one out on the counter daily, replacing it in between if necessary, and it goes in the laundry with all the other wash. So easy to do and we have significantly reduced paper towel use!

However, I am wondering if the Skoy Cloth would be a good item to have on a backpacking trip — any comments? 

#2. Space Dust: The Earth gains weight every year according to researchers from France’s National Center for Scientific Research. They calculated that Earth receives about 14 tons of micrometeorites each DAY. 80% they say probably comes from comets, the remaining from asteroids.  Information based on the 20-year study of the debris neat the Franco-Italian Concordia research station in Antarctica. www.earthweek.com

 #3. The First Case of COVID-19 at Everest Base Camp. Yikes! The pandemic continues to complicate hopes for a normal season on the world’s highest mountain (article Apr 20, 2021). Read here.

“Hopes for an Everest season unaffected by the pandemic dimmed last week when the first member of an expedition at Base Camp tested positive for COVID-19, according to a source at camp who asked to remain anonymous.”

The story adds that the patient had been thought to have acquired high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE). He was taken by helicopter to Kathmandu and tested for COVID-19. His team began to quarantine at Base Camp.

“Most foreigners have to present a negative COVID test result upon arrival in Nepal. The government also requires a quarantine period and a second negative test after arrival, but these rules appear to be largely self-enforced.” But compliance with quarantine periods and retesting depends on the individuals and companies. The incidence of COVID-19 in Nepal has been low, but with their neighbor India’s current crisis, it becomes more concerning that most Sherpas have not received the vaccine.  

#4. “Experience a Story 30 Years in the Making,” from Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides (SYMG). I have yet to go on one of their trips (can’t seem to do it all!), but I like their continuing passion for the trail, they trips they lead, and that they are highly experienced.

Here’s more of their story. “In 1991 three lifelong friends combined their passions for the outdoors (and aversions to getting “real” office jobs) and began offering hiking trips to their closest friends and family. They quickly realized the experiences were too incredible not to share with more people. These early expeditions evolved into Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides, a world-renowned guide service focusing on the best hiking and climbing destinations the High Sierra has to offer.

 “2021 marks our 30th year in business.” “SYMG is leading these trips in 2021 or 2022: Rae Lakes Loop Backpack (JMT); John Muir Trail Backpack (the whole trail and Mt. Whitney); Yosemite Grand Traverse (part of the JMT and peaks in Yosemite.); Yosemite’s famous and challenging Half Dome; Alpine Lakes Backpack (Ansel Adams Wilderness); Ansel Adams High Sierra Camp. Here for more info.

#5. John Muir Trail Transportation: Sometimes backpackers find one of the most difficult things about hiking the JMT is getting to and from the trail. To get oriented to transportation hubs, check out this map. 

#6. Transportation changes for the 2021 Sierra Hiking Season. Steve Herr, in the JMT newsletter (4/26/21) provided a very thorough list of COVID service reductions. If you will be depending on public transportation, or a private transportation service to get you to a trailhead, you might need to double check to see what will be available. Herr has obviously devoted an incredible amount of time to compiling these resources! Alan Ladd, who administers the forum, writes, “Steve is in the process of updating his files, but both the current files and any updates will be in this folder.” link here

Sample here: “There will not be any Yosemite Free Valley shuttle, Glacier Point Tour Bus (concessionaire), Tuolumne Meadows Hikers Bus (concessionaire), Tuolumne Meadows shuttle (NPS) in Yosemite.”

More JMT Planning Links: See bit.ly/keyJMTdocs for critical JMT planning information
To subscribe to the invaluable John Muir Trail J…@groups.io , go here

#7. Treeline Review tested to find out, “How Accurate are Stated Volumes of Backpacking Backpacks?” [ed: It varies] Read here.  

#8. Regional: SF Bay Area Regional: Registration for the “Ridge to Bridge” fund-raising event and challenge for the Bay Area Ridge Trail is continuing. The self-guided events will take place for another month —until June 5, 2021. 

“Ridge to Bridges 2021 is a self-guided trail event for hikers, runners, mountain bikers, and equestrians. Choose your own DIY adventure! Register here.  

If you are trying to stay trail ready for a long walk, consider the Ridge trails. There are 390 miles of ridge walking available. The level of difficultly varies, but as “ridge” suggests, there is generally a lot of up and down, and not infrequently, the routes are more difficult than the Camino Frances. That makes it perfect for those who want to start out in shape for the Camino routes.

#9. Berkeley Path Wanderers: 
“Many folks are walking closer to home these days, and our self-guided walks page is getting lots of traffic. We are happy to provide these resources, and hope you are enjoying your solo and/or socially distanced explorations.” Google Berkeley Path Wanderers

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Thank you everyone. Enjoy the wildflowers while you can. Stay well, keep hiking when prudent. I encourage you to send in items of interest to the hiking community.  backpack45 “at sign here” @yahoo.com

Susan ‘backpack45’ Alcorn
Shepherd Canyon Books, Oakland, CA

https://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.

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

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

Prime Hiking Season is HERE!
 
Indian Warrior
 
Question for you hikers out there: Why is everyone exhausted on April 1? 
 
Because we just finished a 31-day March. (Thank you, I guess, Distractify.com)
 
In case you wondered, there wasn’t a March issue of this newsletter; I needed the extra time for hiking in order to see the wildflowers emerging. Don’t miss out on this prime hiking season!
 
Contents:
1Treeline reviews and backpacking gear list
2. Grand to Grand Ultra
3. Anish’s podcast on her newest book, Mud, Rocks, Blazes. Interviewed by Jennifer Pharr Davis
4. Film screening and Q&A of Wesley “Crusher” Trimble’s short film, “Within Weakness.” 
5. New edition Sierra South by Elizabeth Wenk  
6. Ivar reports from Santiago weekly’ the March 22nd report had hopeful news.
7. Marcy del Clements new book of poetry and prose about Appalachia.
8. Regional: California: Tom Courtney suggests a California Walkabout
9. Regional: Northern California: Envision ‘The Great Redwood Trail’ 
10. Regional: SF Bay Area: Bay Trail: Osprey and the Lone Tree Point Bridge Installation.
11. Regional: SF Bay Area Ridge Trail: Ridge to Bridges. 
 
Articles:

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Walk, Hike, Saunter: Seasoned Women Share Tales and Trails

Fields of lupine

My new book, “Walk, Hike, Saunter: Seasoned Women Share Tales and Trails” will be published this fall.

For years, I have thought about writing a new book about women hikers; Covid 19 and its restrictions has helped it come to pass. It’s not that I wanted to be told to shelter-in-place, or to have to cancel exciting travel plans, but at least this time has provided an opportunity to do something creative at home. 

Walk, Hike, Saunter…
is for hikers, especially women, who are looking for motivation, encouragement, information, and inspiration to put on their trail shoes and get on hiking trails here and abroad. It features the contributions of thirty-two wise women, all 45 years of age or greater, who share their sometimes humorous, occasionally frightening, always open stories of the joy walking brings to their lives.

How and where—the sharing begins
They tell where they hike, and how they keep going when things get tough. The stories they tell are the ones they would share at hiker gatherings and around a campfire (if time and circumstances allow).

There’s more to come!
We’ll soon be posting more details about the book here—in particular the names of some of the women who are included. If you are active in the long-distance hiking community, you’ll recognize several because of their extraordinary feats—such as earning the Triple Crown Award for completing the Appalachian, Continental Divide, and Pacific Crest Trails.

However, there’s something for all hikers
Walk, Hike, Saunter is for anyone who hikes—whether in their neighborhood, on the paths in their local parks, or along long-distance trails in the U.S. or abroad.

This has been a wonderful project for me because of all the generous and accomplished women I have been able to work with—hearing their stories has been inspiring—and helped me stay (somewhat) sane during these trying times.

I am very excited that we at Shepherd Canyon Books will soon be able to share Walk, Hike, Saunter with readers.

Cheers, 
Susan Alcorn