The Gathering – 2018by Charles Baker
Though the pool was closed to hikers, the ALDHA-West 2018 Gathering was a splashing success! The Gathering was held at Camp Kiwanis, Mount Hood, OR, and well attended. President “Allgood” rolled in early Friday, with the ALDHA-West booty trailer filled to the max with awesomeness and gear for the ultimate raffle – the ultimate weekend, of the year. A shout-out to all our sponsors who made donations towards the raffle and other giveaways, and a special thanks to our Board Member-At-Large, Craig “Pisco” Gulley, who spent a lot of time and energy coordinating this effort.
Friday’s schedule was light with check-in from 4 – 6 pm. It was great to see that so many members took advantage of the “Early Bird Special” and received a discount (saving the coin for hiking or gear). When arriving, hikers were met by the smiling faces of “The Punisher,” “Drop-n-Roll,” and “Salty” who efficiently checked everyone in, sold raffle tickets, and gave out special goodie-bags filled with many wonderful flavors like chicken, chocolate, and…; you guessed it – peanut butter! Friday night’s dinner and President’s Welcome from 6 to 7 pm was a glimmering hint of just how awesome the weekend would be. The food was wonderful – ALL WEEKEND! If there was a meal you especially liked (or disliked), please leave us a note below. The Camp Kiwanis staff prepped some great food for us and made sure there was plenty to go around. For next year’s Gathering, don’t forget to note any dietary restrictions/preferences you may have when you register.
Friday night Bingo!
Making sure we were all informed of the weekend’s events, welcomed, and tracking down the same trail, President “Allgood” took the floor for a charismatic “Howdy Y'all.” Then the true surprise of the night – who would have thought that “SoFar” had such bingo calling skills! We all had the chance to win special raffle tickets as “SoFar” melodiously called the game of chance from 7:30 to 9:00 pm. Afterward, we were able to hang out and enjoy some delicious beverages, or, for those of us who were tired and done for the day, wander off to our bunks for a good night’s sleep. This is a great spot to send a special thank you to our sponsors who donated beverages: Widmer Brothers, courtesy of Rob Widmer; Thunder Island Brewing; and for that special keg, PCT Days Lager, a coloration project of Widmer and Thunder Island, donated by Jason Waicunas @ PCT Days.
Saturday began with a hearty breakfast. The first presentation, by Lindsay “Marmot” Malone quickly got our attention and riveted us to our seats. Lindsay currently oversees the largest Forest Stewardship Council group certificate in the Pacific Northwest. When she’s not working on ecologically-based forest stewardship projects or teaching workshops, she’s outside climbing mountains, exploring trails, and honing her naturalist skills. Her presentation “Mountains to Sound Greenway,” was more than a tale of a trail, she encouraged us to be creative and put treks together that – well, could start from our own front door!
When I think of Saturday, at an ALDHA-West Gathering, my mind automatically flips to “Hiker Olympics!” This year’s awe-inspiring event, which was an adrenaline-pumping competition - pitted the world’s best hikers against themselves and the clock. This year’s event was organized and orchestrated by that guru of “Flextrek,” Renee “SheRa” Patrick. The spectators cheered and waved on their favorite hikers as the contestants battled their way through obstacles on the treacherous course while wearing the famed “Flextrek Backpack.” Hikers were seen flying through the air, skidding across dirt-track, and bouncing off obstacles as they made their way around the “Devil’s Loop.” Expect next year’s event to be just as rigorous and competitive. Rumor in the hiking community has it that some of the competitors are already preparing and training for this prestigious event. With confidence, I can report that the event was a huge success and we had great fun. Thank you “SheRa” for taking it to the next level in planning, coordinating, and running this event. Great volunteers like you make these events memorable and successful.
Renee “SheRa” Patrick is also a Triple Crowner! Since finishing the Continental Divide Trail in 2015, she has been working with The Oregon Natural Desert Association as the Oregon Desert Trail Coordinator to establish the 750-mile trail. She and Miguel “VirGo” Aguilar - an ALDHA-West Board Member-At-Large, great dad, and master video editor – gave a great presentation on “The Oregon Desert Trail.” They quickly put to bed the myths that this trail requires tumbleweed navigation, carrying dehydrated water, and only removing a rattle-snake from your leg if it is impeding your progress. However, their impressive visual and verbal presentation conveyed the beauty, real challenges, and options of this trail.
Phil Hough interviewing Jim Wolf
Phil Hough, aka “Nowhere Man,” is a founding board member of the Idaho Trails Association as well as a past president of ALDHA-West. Phil co-hosts a weekly radio show on Sandpoint’s KRFY.fm, interviewing guests on topics related to conservation and outdoor recreation. Phil applied his great knowledge of things outdoors and his skills as a radio host, and interviewed Jim Wolf “The Creator of the CDT,” after our lunch break on Saturday. In 1973, Jim Wolf hiked from the Canadian border through Glacier Park and the Bob Marshall and Scapegoat Wildernesses. Convinced of the CDT’s merits, he described his observations of this and subsequent hikes in a series of guidebooks. His testimony in the 1976 Congressional hearings lent support to the statutory designation of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail in 1978. Jim then founded the Continental Divide Trail Society, with a mission (1) to help in the planning, development, and maintenance of the CDT as a silent trail and (2) to assist users plan and enjoy their experiences along the route.
The Keynote speaker at this year’s Gathering was Jennifer Pharr Davis. JPD has a little over 14,000 miles of hiking under her belt. She has logged miles and long trails on six continents. In 2007, she set the self-supported FKT on the Long Trail and the supported FKT on the Appalachian Trail in 2011. Her AT FKT landed her the honor as one of National Geographic’s Adventurers of the Year. She has figured out how to have a life off-trail as a wife, mother, and professional… and continue hiking. She has kept it classy amid the negativity and tense confrontations that can be part of the hiker trash community, and she has always found ways to give back to the trail and conservation organizations.
While having fun, getting married (way to go Story and Bright!), and chatting it up during free time on Saturday, hikers were able to see gear brought in by some of our sponsors. In attendance this year were: Tarptent, Montbell, Six Moon Designs, Next Adventure, and CNOC.
Party Like it's 1968!
With the great presentations completed, it was time to “Party Like it’s 1968” at the annual Awards Dinner, sponsored by Henry Shires - Tarptent. There were those who came in 1968 style costume, there were those who wore the same clothes they had worn in 1968, and then there were those who are wearing the same clothes that they have been wearing since 1968… 1968 was a great year of music, apparel, hair, and flowers – yes, those of us that were there did much more than sit around and watch rocks form. The theme came about as a way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Scenic Trail Act. Great idea! – Yes?
Trail Angels extraordinaire, Carole and Hugo Mumm
Dinner over, we settled down to honor those special individuals we call “Trail Angels” with the Martin D. Papendick Award. This year’s recipients were Carole and Hugo Mumm. Memories were shared – some funny, some somber, all heartfelt.
This year’s Triple Crown recipients were honored as 62 hikers received this prestigious, hard earned, award. They shared some thoughts - the high or low points of their journey; some gave thanks to their respective support crews/individuals, as they were awarded the honorific of “Triple Crowner.”
Sunday – Nutrition made simple; line up at the breakfast bar and fill your plate high with savory morsels. The Annual General Meeting and Elections were held after we had devoured a “hiker’s portion” for breakfast. Most of the time spent in this meeting was given to the general elections. There were several positions vacated due to term limits. Each of the individuals leaving had donated much of their time, talents, and energies – as well as financial sacrifices – in fulfilling their duties as Officers and Board Members of ALDHA-West. Each deserves a huge thanks for jobs well done, but each also deserves a respite from this hard work. Noted: Elizabeth “Snorkel” Thomas, Vice-President; Felicia “Princess of Darkness” Hermosillo, Board Member-At-Large; Scot “SoFar” Forbes, Board Member-At-Large; Miguel “VirGo” Aguilar, Board Member-At-Large. The general membership then cast their votes to elect the following individuals as noted: Katie “Salty” Gerber, Vice-President; Naomi “The Punisher” Hudetz, Treasurer; Miguel “VirGo” Aguilar, Board Member-At-Large; Amanda “Zuul” Jameson, Board Member-At-Large; Elsye “Chardonnay” Walker, Board Member-At-Large.
Thank you VirGo, SoFar, POD and Snorkel (not pictured) for your service to ALDHA-West!
It should be noted that Miguel “VirGo” Aguilar, did not term limit out, but sought re-election at the end of his current term. Also, Naomi “The Punisher” Hudetz, had been asked to fill the position of Treasurer by the Executive Committee when Steven “Twinkle” Shattuck resigned from the post earlier in the year. Naomi volunteered her time and expertise, and had a significant part, in the effort to establish ALDHA-West’s 501(c)3 status. Her professional skill sets and experience make her significantly qualified for this position.
What could be called the capstone event of the Gathering, the Raffle - and what a raffle it was, followed the elections. There was so much stuff to be raffled off, BIG STUFF too! Thanks again to our contributing sponsors who made this possible and to Craig “Pisco” Gulley, the Board member who pulled it all together. The burning question is… will “Pisco” force “Allgood” into a larger trailer next year to get it all the raffle prizes to the Gathering?!! Of course, thanks to all who purchased raffle tickets. The raffle is a major funding event for ALDHA-West, and the proceeds help finance the mission of ALDHA-West, “To inspire, educate and promote fellowship among long-distance hikers and those who support long-distance hiking.”
Another special thanks to all those who wrote postcards and notes to their respective Representatives, requesting support for our wilderness areas.
From the Officers and Board of Directors of ALDHA-West, we invite you and look forward to seeing you at the 2019 ALDHA-West Gathering in northern California. Plan to come early – this is a great place and a great time for a hike!
Check out lots more great photos from the event taken by our photorgrapher John "Biggie" Carr.
Board Nominations are Live!
by Whitney “Allgood” LaRuffa, President
Have you ever thought about wanting to give back to the hiking community?
Do you want to make an impact in ALDHA-West’s Future?
Do you want to get to know a great group of volunteers better and make lasting friendships as a result?
If you answered YES to any of these questions, then you should consider serving on the Board of ALDHA-West.
I can remember my first time attending an ALDHA-West gathering in 2009, it was my first time attending an event, and I was already being asked if I was interested in being on the board, at the time I wasn’t. Over the years we would open nominations up at the beginning of the weekend, and people would nominate each other, often the nominees were reluctant but stepped up to ensure the organization kept going.
In 2015 we had about a dozen people who were nominated and ran for the board, it was one of those moments when I said to myself, “we are finally growing something people want to be a part of.” Frankly, it was one of my proudest moments serving as your President as it validated all the hard work we had been doing the past few years.
ALDHA-West Officers and Board of Directors as elected at the 2017 Gathering
With our recent change to a 501c3 non-profit education-based organization, we as a board decided it was time to finally make our nomination process more professional and clearer than just writing a friend’s name on a piece of paper, usually after a few refreshments on Saturday night. After much debate and discussion, the board decided to have an online nomination process that closes September 1 of this year, same as the Triple Crown application.
With this new online nomination format, our currently paid members have the opportunity to nominate themselves, or someone who they feel can serve the board in a meaningful way. It also allows the current board to talk with nominees about what serving the board entails regarding personal time and financial commitment. While some small stipends are provided for board members to travel from time to time for Rucks, the majority of the expenses of traveling to events such as the Gathering and the cost of admissions to such events are paid by board members personally.
This new process also allows the current board to evaluate how well a nominee will fit into the group, what skill set they bring to the table to help facilitate all the behind the scenes work we do, and also ensure we have time to vet out any potential conflicts of interest that may exist.
Once we close the nomination process and have an opportunity to meet with the nominees, we will be sending out an email to all of our members. This email will include a photo, bio, and some answers to questions we will have each nominee answer. This email will allow our members to have a better idea of who is running for each position before our election at the General Membership meeting at the Gathering.
Yes, elections are still taking place in person at the Gathering, so we can ensure that no Russian meddling is affecting our results.
This year we have some board members who have served us all well, but for personal reasons have decided they need a break and will not be seeking re-election at this time or they have term-limited out. The open positions this year include: Vice President, Treasurer, and 3 Board Members at Large. All positions serve a 2-year term, and descriptions of each position can be found here.
Now with all the technical things explained, let me tell you what serving on the board means to me.
Serving on the board has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my adult life. I have seen the hiking community and our organization grow to what it is today. The growth has been amazing, we have worked hard to make the Rucks a great place to introduce newcomers to long-distance hiking and help them get prepared for their hikes. The rucks also provide time in the winter to see old friends. We have also built a sense of community, and our demographics have shifted to where we now have members who attend annually ranging from their 20’s to their 80’s, and everyone genuinely gets along.
It’s also hard work, at times I ask myself, “why I am I doing this” and then I remember the look on someone’s face lighting up at the Gathering when they see a friend they hiked with years ago walk into the room. I also remember the goosebumps I get when we show the Triple Crown recipients’ video and the tears of joy that people have when receiving their award. I also feel such joy and gratitude each year when we recognize the Martin Papendick recipients for all their hard work as trail Angels helping numerous hikers over the years.
Mostly though, I think of all the wonderful people who have come into my life from serving together on the board. I feel like my family has grown leaps and bounds and I know some of the people I have worked with will be friends until the day I die.
Oh yeah, and we have plenty of fun too, like road trips to ID for Rucks, serving thru-hikers endless amounts of food at PCT Days, and laughing into the wee hours of the night at the annual board retreat.
I hope you will consider nominating yourself or a friend to the board so that we can continue to grow our organization into the future.
This issue of the Gazette's "Sponsor Spotlight" features Kristen Diers, Director of Operations for Katabatic Gear, one of ALDHA-West’s sponsoring gear companies. We asked Kristen a few questions about Katabatic Gear so that we can get to know them better. If you have any additional questions for Kristen, please leave a comment.
Brief Description of company:
Katabatic Gear is a small Colorado-based company designing and manufacturing ultralight gear with a focus on exceeding customer expectations for comfort and function. Our company began shortly after the founder, Aaron Martray, caught the UL backpacking bug. Before that, you might have seen Aaron slogging along the trail with his 80-lb. backpack, complete with a fry pan and camp chair. Like many of us, he used to think he needed to carry a lot more in his pack in order to be safe and happy in the backcountry.
A scenic detour over Hunchback Mtn, San Juan Mountains, CO.
Once he realized all the benefits of carrying lighter/less gear, he became obsessed with reducing pack weight. Sound familiar? He left certain (unused) items behind, replaced his white gas stove with an MYOG Heineken can stove, and trimmed every extra strap and clip he found. He started replacing heavier items with newly available UL products. Though Aaron loved the quality and conservative temperature rating of his Western Mountaineering sleeping bag, it was just too heavy for his newfound ultralight aspirations, so he had to find a replacement. Which ties into the next question:
Did you start as a DIYer? How did you make the leap to starting a gear business?
Aaron wanted a UL quilt style bag with the same comfort and quality of his Western Mountaineering sleeping bag. However, he felt like the quilt style sleeping bags that were available at the time didn’t hit the mark. He had tons of ideas about how to make a quilt style sleeping bag that wasn’t drafty or cold - but would they really work? There was only one way to find out, so Aaron learned how to sew. After countless iterations, Aaron decided that his DIY quilt was super cozy AND super light! He thought other UL backpackers might want a good night’s sleep, too, so decided he’d try to sell this design.
Testing temperature ratings of EARLY prototypes, sleeping out at our base camp of a canyoneering trip.
Once the decision was made, years of testing, adjusting, testing, redesigning, testing, and perfecting ensued. Everything from fabrics to attachment clips; temperature ratings to drawcords were all dialed-in after countless nights in the backcountry of Utah, Colorado, Alaska, Canada . . . He also included several human guinea pigs who gladly offered feedback. After that, it’s just your typical story of a business starting from an apartment, moving to a little shop, hiring a part-time employee, hiring a full-time employee, and so on.
Durability testing of early prototype backpack: dragging them through slot canyons in Utah to see how much they can take.
Over the years, more and more of Aaron’s ideas for UL gear have come to market, so he is still the DIYer, designing and building prototypes. We then put them through the wringer (ourselves, and other folks) in the great outdoors. This might be our favorite part of the job for obvious reasons. But in the end, our main goal is to see happy, comfortable customers on the trail, carrying gear they hardly notice. Because when it works the way you want it to, you don’t have to think about it.
Who do you see as your market? How do you reach these folks?
We think our customers are people who want to make their outdoor endeavors more enjoyable by carrying lightweight, compact gear that exceeds their expectations.
When we started, most of our customers were UL thru-hikers, SUL gram weenies, FKT challengers, and the like. Over the years, all sorts of outdoor enthusiasts who want lightweight or compact gear have started buying from us: cyclists, climbers, runners, skiers, and weekend warriors.
Above Stevens Canyon, Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument
Not only do our customers vary by favorite activity, but they also run the gamut in age, gender, and location. One of the trends we’ve been excited to see is an uptick in retirees. Retired or not, those of us with aging bodies have realized that we can spend more time on the trail, and have happy joints and muscles when we go with LW/UL gear.
So far, we’ve been graced with the pleasure of a great reputation for quality and comfort, so word of mouth has played a large role in reaching new customers. Also, social media makes it easy for us to keep in touch with the market, as well as learn what is important to potential and existing customers.
Do you see the possibility (opportunity/threat) that the big gear makers try to buy up the cottage gear makers like we see happening in the craft beer space?
We think this depends on just how “mainstream” UL gear becomes. Generally speaking, a lot of UL designs are a little too far outside the box for most backpackers or outdoor enthusiasts to embrace. [A sleeping bag without a back? Won’t I freeze to death? Why doesn’t that backpack have a place for me to hang my Bluetooth speaker?] We feel UL gear can and should appeal to a larger market than it currently does, but it can be a mental shift. When more people realize that UL gear can be even more functional and comfortable than traditional gear, our little cottage companies might start to look good to those bigger manufacturers. Unfortunately, rather than buying up the cottage companies, it is more likely that they’ll just hijack the cottage designs they think they can sell. For now, we’ll just stay focused on getting high-quality UL gear into the hands of folks who love to be outside.
We’re stuck on just about anything IPA. We know sours are a trend, but we haven’t quite figured those out yet. Any tips?
Favorite activity when you’re not hiking?
Mountain biking, road biking, climbing, canyoneering, skiing . . . Any of which are followed wonderfully by a nice IPA.
We also love bikepacking and road bike tours: This is Cottonwood Pass from a super fun, 9-day road bike loop around Southwestern CO.
The new book by Keith Foskett is a bit of departure from his previous books and a bit outside what you would expect for a writer known for writing about his on- trail adventures. Keith has written in the past about his hikes on the Pacific Crest Trail (The Last Englishman), the Appalachian Trail (Balancing on Blue) and the Camino De Santiago (The Journey In Between). Each of these books are well written and entertaining accounts of successful thru-hike journeys. With the usual amount of people, places, and hijinks of trail life. Keith’s style of writing is easy to read, except for bits of his English humor easy to relate too.
High and Low if different. It starts by recounting his failed attempt of a thru-hike on the Continental Divide Trail, not something most people would want to admit let alone write about. However, this book is not just about the physical failure of the CDT hike; it is about the mental and emotional failure he experienced not just on the CDT, but also after returning to his home in England and attempting to then hike across Scotland. After recuperating for a bit, Keith starts with the tough Cape Wrath Trail in the Northwest of Scotland and then moving on to the West Highland Way and then eastward across Scotland. Like in all his books Keith paints a fantastic picture of the trail and the surrounding landscape, but more so here we get a daily insight into his emotional state, for you see Keith start to come to grips with the notion he might be suffering from depression. He fits the notion but can’t deny something is wrong. The outdoors that was always his refuse and the one place he could escape to when his batteries were running low, has now become his nemesis and antagonist as even the weather conspires to further his descent into the “pit” of despair. Keith’s description of this pit is truly terrifying as he describes not only the physical pain of hiking for days on end in less than ideal conditions but also with the new weight of depression building within him.
Keith has good days, as he moves across Scotland. Days described as “paths of endless Guinness” and meets some extraordinary people along the way that help shape the thoughts in his head. Does he make it across Scotland? Can you walk (hike) out of depression? I will leave you to read this tale and find out. What I can tell you is that this is a very engaging book that will make you think hard about the thoughts and struggles we all experience while on trail (and off) and in the end Keith offers some real concrete suggestions for how to spot the symptoms of depression and deal with these emotions.
A gentle reminder for those heading out this year to pay attention to your fellow hikers when you notice they are having more than just a few bad days on trail and don’t be afraid to get involved.
Find Keith’s books on his website and where online books are sold
Timber Tracking Project
Illegal logging destroys forests, disrupts ecological processes, increases CO2 in the atmosphere, and provides revenue for other illicit activities. Port officials, law enforcement officers, corporations, and everyday consumers need new tools to disrupt tainted global supply chains. Cutting-edge genetic technologies can help, but in order to do so, they will require extensive DNA reference materials from high-value timber species.
Data That Drives Change
The outdoor community is well positioned to collect tree tissue samples from far-flung locations on a large scale across a species’ geographic range. These samples will be used to build genetic reference libraries for high-value, commercial timber species across the globe. The developed libraries will enable scientists to identify the species and origin of traded wood products and aid customs officers in the forensic validation of a suspicious shipment. This will help officers enforce illegal logging legislation, empower responsible buyers, and thwart dishonest harvesters in the illegal timber trade.
Why Care About Timber Theft?
Timber theft is a pervasive global issue with grave ecological, economic, and social consequences. It is estimated that 15-30% of all wood on the international market has been illegally sourced.
When a tree is stolen, we lose far more than something nice to look at. Trees provide habitat for countless species, stabilize soil, and shade streams. They also sequester carbon from the atmosphere. Chopping them down both halts conversion of CO2 to oxygen and releases stored carbon as discarded roots and crowns decay. Together, legal and illegal deforestation account for around 10% of global carbon emissions.
Governments and responsible timber producers lose tens of billions of dollars of revenue annually to the illegal timber trade. Timber theft has been tied to organized crime, corrupt military actions, and the violation of indigenous rights.
What We're Doing About It
In partnership with the World Resources Institute, Adventure Scientists is headed into the field to gather tree tissue samples which geneticists from DNA4 Technologies and New Mexico State University will use to develop the genetic reference libraries.
The first phase of this project will focus on the bigleaf maple, a towering hardwood that grows along the Pacific coast of the United States and Canada. Because about one in 20 bigleaf maples possesses an incredibly beautiful wood pattern, these trees are targeted by timber thieves for their high value in the guitar and furniture trade.
In spring of 2018, we will be calling hikers, backpackers, and sea kayakers to action. After training, volunteers will collect bigleaf maple samples such as leaves, seeds, or tree cores from select sites in California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia.
After establishing the reference library for bigleaf maple, we will then expand to other species around the world.
What You Can Do Next
APPLY TO VOLUNTEER
Illegal logging erodes biodiversity, exacerbates climate change, and bankrolls political corruption. Law enforcement officers, corporations, and consumers require new tools to trace wood products back to their points of origin. Cutting-edge genetic technologies can help, but in order to do so, they will require extensive reference materials from high-value timber species.
As an Adventure Scientists volunteer, you can provide these currently unavailable samples and help unlock the potential of DNA-based technologies to combat illegal logging.
2018 Field Season:
Bigleaf Maple in Pacific North America
The first season of this project is focused solely on collecting samples from bigleaf maple trees along the Pacific coast of North America. We are seeking two tiers of volunteers: leaf crew and wood crew. Both crews require dedication and attention to detail, but because wood crew volunteers will collect several types of tree samples (as opposed to only leaves), these volunteers will need to commit more time to training and sampling over the spring/summer season.
To volunteer for either crew, you will need to:
Be at least 18 years old.
Live in or be traveling extensively within California, Oregon, Washington, or British Columbia in Spring-Summer 2018.
Own or have access to an iPhone 6 or Android equivalent (or later generation smartphone) for data collection.
Complete online training and pass a quiz to demonstrate mastery of the protocols.
Embark on quick roadside jaunts or multi-day expeditions, depending on your location within the range of bigleaf maple.
Collect a target number of samples across a specific geographic zone and mail these samples to Adventure Scientists.
Follow all safety, permitting, and scientific protocols.
Timing and Locations
The field season is now active in all regions:
Washington & British Columbia
We are actively seeking motivated volunteers in all zones outlined in red on this map.
Updated Map Link
Grey zones are those in which a volunteer for the Leaf Crew has been accepted and completed training. (You may still apply as a back-up volunteer in a grey zone.)
Project end dates will vary according to local conditions, but you can expect that sampling in all zones will wrap up in September.
APPLY FOR LEAF CREW
APPLY FOR WOOD CREW
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
INFOGRAPHIC: HOW IT WORKS
PO Box 1834, Bozeman, MT 59771
American Long-Distance Hiking Association-West
Our Mission: To inspire, educate and promote fellowship among long distance hikers and those who support long distance hiking.
Support ALDHA-West with AmazonSmile
Is Your Head in the Clouds?
by Charles Baker
“These fleeting sky mountains are as substantial and significant as the more lasting upheavals of granite beneath them. Both alike are built up and die, and in God’s calendar, difference in duration is nothing.” John Muir
In the morning you break camp, perhaps check your map, don your pack and adjust your straps, then down the trail you go. A few miles into the day you notice the wind picking up a little and the temperature dropping. Looking up to the sky, you notice clouds moving in.
“Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it,” goes an old saying. While we may not be able to change the weather, we can certainly be aware of it, when it is changing, and take appropriate action. Do I need more sunscreen, or do I dive into my tent? Is my wet-weather gear handy? Will today’s umbrella be for sun or rain?
The weather you are experiencing on the trail is part of that magnificent worldwide weather machine affecting every place on the globe. Being fueled by that massive energy source in the sky we call the sun, it follows somewhat predictable patterns. Warm tropical air is pulled north by the cold arctic air that is dropping to the south. The tug of the Earth as it spins around, pulls on that belt of air current, causing many prevailing weather patterns to move across the US from west to east.
As air rises, it pulls moisture into the sky where clouds are formed. When clouds are white, they generally aren’t carrying enough moisture to dump rain or snow on us. But as more moisture collects, the clouds begin to change in color and take on a grey cast. These clouds are weighted with moisture and can drop rain, snow, or sleet on that head of yours as you wander down the trail. If those clouds are fast moving and have a tinge of green around the edges, look out for possible hail and the threat of severe storms such as tornadoes.
Mountain, lakes, coastlines, prairies – all can affect the weather as well. The well-prepared hiker studies the weather patterns in the areas they will be hiking. Checking the most recent weather forecast is not only advisable but prudent. We may not be able to change the weather, but we can be prepared for it.
Weather lore has been around for – well, a long time. People have been observing the weather and have become more efficient at recognizing emerging patterns. Sailors and farmers have added to the collection of lore that has become part of our vocabulary – “red sky in the morning, sailors take warning,” for instance. Outdoor adventurers too have added to this knowledge base; many believing that smoke going straight up from the campfire guarantees stable conditions.
Understanding weather patterns can help you stay safe and possibly more comfortable on your hike. While “The Weather Channel” and other online sources are great to reference, on the trail we may not have such luxury, and, like basic navigation skills, we need to have enough knowledge to see us safely through.
The international system of cloud classification has ten principal cloud types. If you can identify all ten, that is great; however, in this article, I will mention just three as a basis for building a hiker’s weather skills.
Cirrus – these are the wispy white clouds moving high overhead. They are an indicator to alert you that good conditions may last a while longer, but something is changing in the weather system.
Cirrus CloudsPhoto by – University of Illinois Extension
Cumulus – these are the big cotton-ball like clouds that I like to watch with my grandchildren and try to pick out shapes of animals, faces, or whatever our imaginations conjure. I like them too because they usually signal fair weather. However, keep an eye out. As warm weather pulls moisture into the sky, these can darken and billow into thunderheads. That fair weather may then turn into lightning, hard rain, or possible hail.
Photo by – University of Illinois Extension
Stratus – these clouds are heavy with moisture, lower, and have less shape. Their coverage of the sky is usually complete, and they often bring with them rain or snow that can last for hours. They may be bringing Mother Earth needed moisture, but they have caused many “zero days.”
Stratus CloudsPhoto by – OU School of Meteorology
Understanding weather takes time, effort, and practice. However, over time it can become one of the most valuable and useful tools in your hiker toolbox.
Stay safe out there!
Contributor: Melissa “Treehugger” Spencer
HummusAt home, hummus is one of our go-to snacks. You buy dried hummus, but the quality and calories are lacking. On a whim, I tried drying it myself, and I was surprised how easy it was and how good the finished product was! I only list this as a “gourmet” recipe because it does require a food dehydrator or an oven. Pita chips or tortillas pack nicely and, in combination with the hummus, make a great standalone snack or meal.
IngredientsAll you need is your favorite homemade or store-bought hummus!
At-Home PreparationTake your favorite 10 oz. Hummus and stir it up well (especially if it has a topping). If you like, stir in extras. I like to add Tapatio to spice up the red pepper flavored ones, or lime juice to sweeten the plain ones. Divide the hummus in three and spread it with a knife or spatula on three fruit leather trays in your food dehydrator. If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can spread the hummus on parchment paper or directly on a cookie sheet for drying in the oven. Either way, try and spread it evenly so that it is uniformly thin across the surface.
If you are using a dehydrator, set it to about 100F. If you are using an oven, set it on the lowest possible setting, preferably 180F or below.
In the dehydrator, the hummus will take about 8-10 hours to dry. When it is done, it will crack and easily flake off the trays. In the oven, it will only take about 1 hour, so keep your eye on it. You don’t want to cook or burn it.
Hummus spread on fruit leather tray in dehydrator
Divide into three small Ziploc baggies. Since hummus is oily, I recommend you store it in the freezer to prevent it from going rancid. However, I have had it out of the freezer for up to 2 months with no problems.
On-Trail PreparationAbout 5 minutes before you want to eat, pour just enough (cold) water onto the dry hummus to cover it. Do not add too much water; you can always add more, but it’s hard to take out. Let it sit 5 min. Stir again. If it is not creamy enough, add a tiny bit more water or up to 1 T. olive oil. That’s it!
Each serving is 200-370 calories, depending on the brand and whether or not you added oil. (Ex. Sabra hummus with no oil comes out to 235 calories.) Each baggie will make about 7 T. hummus and weighs about 1.5 oz.
If you liked this idea, check out Treehugger’s other Gourmet Trail Recipes on her blog!
The Discreet Dirtbag
By: Felicia “Princess of Darkness” Hermosillo
The spring equinox has come and gone. Some folks have already begun long hikes while others make final preparations. Whenever you start, and wherever your adventure takes place this summer, you’ll likely walk into a town at some point...dirty, bedraggled, with gear to dry and a belly to fill. As more and more of us spend time in the outdoors, and then require rejuvenation in town, our interactions with business owners and their patrons become more important than ever. ALDHA-West has been adding a “Hiker Town Etiquette” section to their “Leave No Trace” presentation, and it is worth revisiting before the season gets fully underway. Here are some of the basic suggestions that have come from numerous conversations with business owners and hikers:
"I asked for and received permission before spreading out my gear out.”Photo by: Liz “Snorkel” Thomas
Being a good ambassador is a responsibility that belongs to all of us, and, along with those lines, I would like to add one more suggestion:
I know that is not going to be a popular item to add to the list of suggestions, but it is important. People don’t often change until they are called out by their peers. For those of you who are unsure how to do this I have a few suggestions:
Being a good ambassador and helping each other to leave a great impression is all of our responsibility and it will foster a great relationship between the towns we need and the trails we love.
by Charles Baker – Editor
"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul." - John Muir
Sunset along the West Rim of Zion
As hikers, and specifically as ALDHA-West members, we love the outdoors and have an interest in preserving and maintaining the great wilderness areas of our nation. As Kate “Drop-n-Roll” Hoch declared; “It is now more important than ever to take a stand and fight for public lands.” “Continue to make your voice heard.” (Gazette, December 7, 2017, “I Continue to Stand for Public Lands).
Recently, I ran across a notice by the National Park Service regarding a proposal to redesign the Zion National Park South Entrance Fee Station. As an advocate for this beautiful national treasure, my interest was peaked. Here is another opportunity for me, as a long-distance hiker, to voice my opinion and respond to a request for input from those managing this project.
There are a few questions you may ask yourself as you formulate a response to this type project:
It is always best to research these issues for yourself and develop your thoughts, opinions, and recommendations. The following background information may help as a starting point in your analysis.
Hiker taking in the view near the east entrance of Zion
Visitation to Zion National Park has increased significantly and is straining the existing infrastructure and has resulted in longer wait times to enter the park, specifically at the South Entrance Station. During 2016, the tenth busiest day of that year had a 324 vehicle/hour demand on the gate. The fee station has a capacity of only 194 vehicles/hour. The traffic congestion at this gate is frequently one-quarter to one-half mile in length. On busy days, the traffic line can backup all the way to the neighboring town of Springdale, UT. Visitors to the park can wait in this traffic line for up to an hour just to enter the park! As a visitor to the park, think how frustrating this could be; and the exhaust emissions have got to be horrible! Also, park fee rangers try to expedite the process by “roving” this queue, putting themselves in danger.
The Utah Department of Transportation analyzed this situation in 2016 and summarized that an additional entry lane could increase the number of vehicles processed/hour by 50%, fully accommodating current park entry demands. As such, the National Park Service is proposing a redesign of the Entrance Station and the roadway. The proposal recommends adding additional traffic lanes leading into and out of the park, increasing the number and size of the fee booths, traffic islands, an employee parking lot, a shade structure to cover the fee booths – complete with solar panels, and two culverts for stormwater runoff.
Hiking the east rim in Zion
You are invited, even encouraged, to review this project and submit your thoughts, ideas, and comments regarding its purpose and scope by the deadline of March 1, 2018. The National Park Service website is a great place to start your research, but other resources may be found through a simple web search.
Comments may be submitted in writing, before the March 1, 2018, deadline, to the project Superintendent, or, easily entered on the following website:
"May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds." - Edward Abbey
Editor's Note: With the majority of our members living in the West, we tend to get more information and articles written about trails in that region. However, this week’s trail specific article and photos came to us from Jerry Barker, Board Member, Friends of the MST (Mountain-to-Sea Trail), MST in a Day Coordinator, North Carolina.
For more information:
Kate Dixon, Executive Director
North Carolina’s 1175-mile Mountains-to-Sea Trail hiked on “MST in a Day”
On the exact 40th birthday of the North Carolina Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST), more than 1700 people working together completed 100% of the 1175-mile MST hiking route, from Clingmans Dome on the Tennessee line to Jockey’s Ridge State Park on the coast. (Three legs of an alternate paddle route were not completed due to paddlers being called away to prepare for Hurricane Irma.)
Mt Mitchell Lands Hiking Group
Although not officially confirmed, it is thought that North Carolina, known as the First in Flight state, can add another first to its list -- the only state where hikers have collaborated to complete a long-distance trail in one day.
Mountain-to-Sea, Segment 24
The average segment was three to five miles with the longest of 21.5 miles. A group of seventeen hikers started a minute after midnight; one hiked from dusk to dawn; one hiked over 25 miles from dawn to dusk; a dozen hiked in memory of a family member. Others were so deep in the woods that it took a couple of days to confirm their completion. Overall enthusiasm for the event resulted in more than 7,300 miles being hiked.
The Parks Family Hikers
The non-profit Friends created MST in a Day to raise awareness of the trail and help celebrate the 40th anniversary of a speech by Howard Lee on September 9, 1977, to a National Trails Conference in North Carolina. Lee, then NC Secretary of Natural Resources and Community Development, said North Carolina should create a “state trail from the mountains to the coast leading through communities as well as natural areas.”
Now nearly 700 miles have been built. Rural roads connect the completed sections for a total of 1,175 miles. The General Assembly designated the MST as a state park in 2000. Each year Friends’ volunteers work more than 30,000 hours on the MST.
The MST runs through 37 counties from the Great Smoky Mountains to Jockey’s Ridge State Park on the Outer Banks. The trail connects two National Parks, two national wildlife refuges, ten state parks and three national forests, historical sites, and the highest point in the eastern United States. Unlike most other long-distance trails, the MST occasionally goes through communities, as Lee proposed.
Over 80 people have completed the entire trail with thousands using the trail annually for day hikes and overnight excursions.
For additional information and a video of the day: mountainstoseatrail.org/mstinaday/
ALDHA-West is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.