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:

Read More

Continue reading “Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales and Tips, April 2021”

Hmm, where is Vasquez Peak?

Where’s our peak? 

Woo hoo! For us, Vasquez Peak in Henry Coe State Park was our 84th peak of the Nifty Ninety Peak Challenge.

It was supposed to be 10.2 miles rt., but my friend Patricia and I were ahead of the guys and we didn’t have any navigational devices. We thought Ralph was keeping track on the GPS. Every time I looked back to see if he was signaling me we were close, he was engrossed with walking and talking with our friend Tom.

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It turned out Vasquez Peak was not marked — and there were several high points nearby so you wouldn’t just know by looking around. About a mile past Vasquez, we all stopped to assess exactly where we were. We had reached Rock Springs.

Our route out and back

We walked out on the Hunting Hollow (dirt) road from the parking area at the Hunting Hollow entrance (fee or State Park pass required). There were five creek crossings, but none even ankle deep and rocks had been placed that made it easy.

We turned left and up the hill on the Lyman Willson Ridge Trail. This was the steepest park of the hike, but we stopped tons of times to photograph wildflowers so we didn’t care. We turned right onto Bowl Trail, which took us past Willson Camp.

Willson Camp, as the name implies, allows camping, but there was no one there. The wooden buildings were in disrepair. The large shed was in the worst condition, but it provided some shelter from the strong wind as we ate our snacks. We appreciated the fact that there was a porta-potty available that was being maintained. The water faucet had been turned off. So this is a reminder to either carry all the water you need or be certain there is a source within the park when you hike or camp here!

Past the camp we made our way onto Vasquez Road, which took us past several high points — one, as I noted, was Vasquez itself and Rock Springs!

It was a great hike and I had the feeling that the display of wildflowers was just beginning. Among others, we saw California Poppies, Buttercups, Vetch, Lupine, Hounds Tongue, Baby Blue Eyes, and Fiddlenecks in profusion! Gorgeous!

Continue reading “Hmm, where is Vasquez Peak?”

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