30 Hiking Trails Around the Globe

I don’t think that anyone doubts that those of us working at Ultra Lightload Towels are pretty enamored with hiking, so yet another blog post on amazing hiking trails won’t come as much of a surprise.

No matter if you’re a skilled backpacker or an average Joe who wants to really see what Mother Nature has to offer, there’s a gorgeous trail out there just waiting to offer you the experience of a lifetime. These 30 hiking trails are among the most beautiful in the world and certain to get your blood pumping!

One ofUltra Lightload Towels employees favorites hiking trails here in the US is the Florida National Scenic Trail. However we did not include that one here as we have several blog post for that one. If you are interested about the Florida National Scenic Trail here is the link http://www.fs.usda.gov/fnst.

Colorado Trail – United States: Spanning 486 miles, the Colorado Trail runs from the mouth of Waterton Canyon southwest of Denver, to Durango, through historic mining towns and along ancient Indian trails. For the “short version,” stick to the most beautiful 68 miles between San Luis Pass and Molas Pass, and expect to see a lot of wildlife and plenty of gorgeous wildflowers.

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Photo Credit: Travel Spirit

Buckskin Gulch – United States: Prepare yourself for some absolutely incredible rock formations. The Bucksin Gulch is one of the most popular destinations for slot canyon hikers, clocking in at 13 miles. In some places — like the 2-foot-wide Wire Pass — you’ll need to remove your backpack just to squeeze through. Plan about three to four days for this one.

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Photo Credit: Jason J. Corneveaux, Wikipedia

Kungsleden – Sweden: Also known as “The King’s Trail,” this 275-mile trek will give you a tour of some of Sweden’s most beautiful landscapes, running through four national parks and a nature reserve. Unless you want to spend a month hiking, stick to the northernmost 65 miles.

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Alexandre Buisse

The Snowman Trek - Bhutan: A challenging but rewarding high-altitude hike, the Snowman Trek passes beneath six mountains and crosses nine passes. Highlights include Buddhist monasteries, small villages like Laya, and unique wildlife like the Himalayan blue sheep.

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Photo Credit: Himalayan Expeditions

Mount Kilimanjaro – Tanzania: Reaching 19,340 feet into the sky, Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest peak. Believe it or not, this trek is possible for even the most inexperienced of climbers and requires no special equipment, (which is one of the reasons why 35,000 people climb it every year). Backpacker magazine describes it as a “volcanic hulk [that’s] so massive that it supports five distinct eco-zones, from the banana trees growing at its base to the glaciers draping its upper slopes. … After 27 miles of climbing, you’ll watch Kili’s pyramidal shadow disappear as dawn spreads across an auburn sea of savanna that’s home to lions, elephants and more.”

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Photo Credit: Mount Kilimanjaro Porters

Paine Circuit Trek – Chile: If you want the view of a lifetime, look no further than Chile’s Torres del Paine Circuit. One of the most popular ways to experience Patagonia, the 75-mile hike offers surreal panoramas of icy lakes, blue glaciers, mountains and forests. Most people opt for the three or four day “W” route rather than the full five to eight day circuit.

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Photo Credit: Wanderlust

Roan Highlands – United States: Ranked No. 23 in National Geographic’s “50 Best American Adventures,” Roan Highlands consists of a 48-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail between the Nolichucky River and U.S. Highway 19E. This area is known for its breathtaking views and rhododendrons, and contains the largest expanse of “bales” (openings in the forest along ridges and mountaintops), in the Appalachian range.

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Photo Credi: Fine Art America

Superior Hiking Trail – United States: Named one of the five best hikes in America by Readers Digest in May 2005, the 275-mile Superior Hiking Trail overlooks Lake Superior and passes through forests of birch, aspen, pine, fir and cedar. Highlights include rushing waterfalls and a plethora of wildlife.

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Photo Credit: Black Coffee at Sunrise

Everest Base Camp Trek – Nepal: Face the world’s highest mountain without actually climbing the whole thing. The Everest Base Camp Trek takes hikers to the easily reached high point of 18,513-foot Kala Pattar, through terraced villages, by rushing rivers, over suspension bridges and to the famous Khumba icefall.

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Santa Cruz Trek – Peru: The most popular hike in the White Mountains of Peru, the Santa Cruz Trek is a four day, 31-mile hike for people of all experience levels. Hot springs can be found near the start of the trek, and hikers can enjoy beautiful views of snow-capped peaks, meadows, turquoise lakes and red quenua trees.

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Photo Credit: Reyes Expeditions

Tongariro Northern Circuit – New Zealand: This round-trip hike encircles Mount Ngauruhoe, New Zealand’s most active volcano, with 61 eruptions since 1839. About 25 miles, the Northern Circuit takes approximately three to four days and is suitable for those without much experience. Between the lava flows, explosion pits, Emerald Lakes and glacial valleys, this circuit is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

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Photo Credit: Experienza.com

Yellowstone’s Wild Southwest – United States: The southwest corner of Yellowstone National Park offers a 27-mile trail through Bechler Meadows, picturesque mountains and lush forests. The trek is known for its big waterfalls and trailside hot springs, like the famous Mr. Bubbles, in which hikers can enjoy a good soak after a long walk. Another highlight: the Lone Star Geyser, which erupts every three hours.

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Photo Credit: Martin Blean

Gospel Hump Loop Trail – United States: This 68-mile trail is not for the inexperienced. The terrain is rugged, with steep ups and downs and few hikers. But those who take on the challenge will be rewarded with spectacular views as they hike through sandy beaches along the Salmon River and wildflower-covered meadows, pass by shimmering high-mountain lakes and camp out next to Salmon River tributaries. Wildlife are more common than people  on this trail, and is inhabited by black bears, elk, moose and bighorn sheep.

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Photo Credit: Wilderness.net

Inca Trail – Peru: The ultimate way to visit Machu Picchu, this 27-mile trek combines Andes Mountains scenery with the subtropical Amazon jungle, ending at the Sun Gate on Machu Picchu mountain. Only 200 trekkers are allowed on the trail each day in order to prevent erosion, so plan ahead and expect a four to five day journey through cloud forests, alpine tundra, settlements, tunnels and Incan ruins.

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Photo Credit: Travel to Cusco

Tour du Mont Blanc – France, Italy and Switzerland: This three-country, 105-mile hike circles the 15,770-foot Mont Blanc Massif, the highest peak in Western Europe. One of the most popular long-distance walking trails, the Tour du Mont Blanc takes hikers through mountain passes, snowfields, lush forests, glacial valleys and secluded Alpine villages over a span of about 10 days.

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Photo Credit: Eurotrek

Presidential Traverse – United States: Only the most adventurous backpackers attempt the Presidential Traverse, an extremely difficult and sometimes dangerous climb through New Hampshire’s White Mountains. It’s so named for the summits of peaks named after U.S. presidents that must be crossed to complete the journey: Mount Madison, Mount Adams, Mount Jefferson, Mount Washington, Mount Monroe, Mount Eisenhower and Mount Pierce. About 23 miles long, most people need two to three days to climb the whole thing. The area is known for unpredictable rain, snow and whiteouts, and the winds exceed 100 miles per hour every four days in the winter.

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Photo Credit: Summit Post

Israel National Trail – Israel: One of National Geographic’s “20 Most Epic Trails,” the Israel National Trail crosses the entire country of Israel, clocking in at about 580 to 620 miles. Experienced backpackers generally spend about 45 to 60 days trekking from Israel’s northern border, through major cities like Tel Aviv and Jerusalem as well as the Israeli desert. Hikers will pass through mountains, valleys, forests, craters and orchards, varying from very easy to vary difficult, and crossing biblical sites and historic places like Nazareth, as well as archeological sites.

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Photo Credit: Israel Trail

Zion Narrows – United States: The Zion Narrows, part of Zion National Park, is a gorge carved out by the Virgin River, stretching 16 miles long, reaching about 2,000 feet deep and spanning only about 20 to 30 feet wide in some areas. Ranked No. 5 in National Geographic’s “America’s Best 100 Adventures,” the Zion Narrows is no easy feat. The river marks the route, so there really isn’t a maintained trail, and at least 60% of the hike involves wading, and sometimes swimming, in the river. Highlights include natural springs, hanging gardens and ponderosa pines.

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Photo Credit: World for Travel

Tiger Leaping Gorge – China: Legend has it that a South China tiger once leapt 25 meters across the Yangtze River to escape a hunter, giving this gorge its name. One of the deepest gorges in the world, it clocks in at about 9.3 miles long and 18,360 feet deep in between the snow-covered peaks of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and the Haba Snow Mountain. Backpackers can spend anywhere from three days to a week trekking the narrow winding trails beneath waterfalls and through pine and bamboo forests, visiting quiet rural villages along the way.

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Pembrokeshire Coast Path – Wales: The National Trails website for England and Wales describes this breathtaking coastal trek well: “From St. Dogmaels in the north to Amroth in the south, the trail covers almost every kind of maritime landscape, from rugged cliff tops and sheltered coves to wide-open beaches and winding estuaries.” The 186-mile path is an estimated 35,000 feet of ascents and descents, but some 130 shorter, circular walks exist for the not-so-hardcore hikers. The Pembrokshire Coast Path passes through 58 beaches and 14 harbors, giving backpackers views of volcanic headlands, red sandstone coves, flooded glacial valleys, and a plethora of coastal flora and bird life along the way.

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Photo Credit: National Trail

Sentiero Azzurro – Italy: Pass through picturesque fishing villages, vineyards and terraced hills on this 7.5-mile path that follows the Italian Riviera coastline and connects five villages: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare. Far from a challenging hike, the Sentiero Azzurro is almost completely flat and usually requires only about five hours, although you might want to allow for extra time to stop in each village and enjoy the local cuisine and wine.

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Photo Credit: Walks of Italy

Muliwai Trail – Hawaii: Named “Best Hike in Hawaii” by Backpacker magazine, the Muliwai Trail stretches 9 miles from the Waipio Valley to the Waimanu Valley, allowing hikers to explore old ruins, swimming holes and a black sand beaches on the way.

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Photo Credit: Hawaii Guide

Haute Route – France and Switzerland: The Haute Route, also known as the High Route or Mountaineers’ Route, can be traversed on foot or by ski touring. It begins at the foot of Mont Blanc in France’s Chamonix Valley and takes backpackers through the Swiss Alps to the foot of the Matterhorn in Zermatt, Switzerland. Distant Journeys, a company offering guided hikes, best describes the incredible trek on its website: “Hike beneath imposing peaks and glaciers of the Swiss Alps, wander though alpine meadows and larch forests, cross high, barren passes and descend into lush green valleys. We’ll picnic beside cool mountain lakes, stay in remote mountain huts, visit bustling Swiss villages and relax in the tranquility of isolated old-world hamlets.” Expect at least 12 days if trekking on foot and at least seven days if skiing.

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Photo credit: Cosley & Houston Alpine Guides

Long Range Traverse – Canada: Located in Gros Morne National Park, the 23-mile Long Range Traverse takes experienced backpackers through the Long Range Mountains, offering spectacular views of glaciers, waterfalls, verdant meadows, granite cliffs and coastal landscapes. The rugged terrain makes this a difficult hike, and most backpackers need about four to five days to complete the trek.

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Photo credit: Corner Brook

Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex – United States: This wilderness preserve is home to 17,000 miles of trails, which are traversed by all sorts of adventurers, from day hikers and backpackers to horseback riders and cross-country skiers. The complex hike consists of three wilderness areas: the Great Bear, the Bob Marshall (so named for Robert “Bob” Marshall, the forester, conservationist, writer, wilderness activist and one of the founders of the Wilderness Society), and the Scapegoat. Explorers will find themselves surrounded by rugged peaks, alpine lakes, grassy meadows, lush forests and cascading waterfalls. One of the highlights of the area is the Chinese Wall, a 22-mile-long limestone escarpment that averages 1,000 feet and is part of the Great Divide. The preserve has the highest population density of grizzly bear in all of the United States outside of Alaska.

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Photo credit: Eliott Reed

Bibbulmun Track – Australia: Though there are plenty of smaller hikes, the full, long-distance Bibbulmun Track spans 620 miles of Western Australia, from Kalamunda in the Perth Hills to the historic town of Albany on the south coast. Attempting the full trek takes approximately 60 days and leads backpackers through forests, tranquil farmland, vineyards, waterfalls, wild beaches and granite boulders. Named after the Bibbulmun Nyoongar (an aboriginal group that traveled long distances on foot for ceremonies), “the Bibb” passes through 22 national parks and other reserves, offering glimpses of beautiful coast scenery, wildflower displays and wildlife, such as emus, kangaroos, seals, dolphins and whales.

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Photo Credit: Conde’ Nast Traveler

North Drakensberg Traverse – South Africa: Aaren Adventures best describes this strenuous five to six day trek through South Africa’s highest mountain range: “A trek across this epic landscape begins by ascending chain ladders to reach the top of this barrier and the plateau of Mount-aux-Sources, where the Tugela River plunges 3,110 feet off the top in a series of five cascades that make for the second highest waterfall in the world. From here, the trek crosses the high plateau, broken by rock formations, views out across the cliffs, and the huts of Sotho herdsman, before it works its way down past more waterfalls and river crossings before meeting up with the welcome civilization of the Cathedral Peak Hotel.”

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Photo Shoot: Super Traverse

Sierra High Route – United States: A true wilderness-lover’s adventure, the 195-mile Sierra High Route runs north to south through the Sierra Nevada, crossing 33 passes without any clearly marked trails. Most backpackers choose to tackle one of its five segments, though Backpacker magazine editor Steve Howe hiked the entire thing in one month in 2006. Also known as the “Roper Route,” this hike is “the brainchild of mountaineer Steve Roper, who sought an alternative to the heavily pounded John Muir Trail,” says National Geographic. It passes through Kings Canyon National Park, the Inyo National Forest and Yosemite National Park and involves a good deal of boulder hopping and long stretches of peaceful solitude.

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Photo Credit: Traildino.com

Half Dome – United States: The ultimate way to experience Yosemite National Park, the 14- to 16-mile round-trip hike up the Half Dome (Yosemite’s famous granite dome), can be accomplished by even the average, in-shape person with some preparation. Most hikers need about 10 to 14 hours to get to the top and back, and the trek offers some incredible views of Vernal and Nevada Falls, Yosemite Valley, the Half Dome, Liberty Cap and the High Sierra. Perhaps the most popular part of the hike is the last 400 feet to the summit, where two metal cables allow hikers to climb without rock-climbing equipment.

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Photo credit: Backpacker

Haiku Stairs – Hawaii: What began as a wooden ladder installed on a cliff for workers stringing antenna cables, evolved into an incredible, and challenging, trail consisting of approximately 3,922 steps. Unfortunately, the Haiku Stairs were closed to the public in 1987, but there’s still a way to legally access them , but it’s not for the amateur hiker. Expert hikers can climb to the top of the stairs from the other side of the island and take the trail down.

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Photo credit: Amusing Planet

Posted in hiking, hiking gear, hiking products, Lightload Towels, Lightoad Towels, lightweight backpacking, lightweight towel | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Staying Warm In Winter: Tips For Winter Backpacking/Hiking and Camping

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Stick to the 3-layer rule.  When it comes to dressing for the cold, it’s important to stay both warm and dry. The best way to do this is to wear 3 layers of clothing – a base layer, a middle layer and an outer layer. Your base layer is the layer closest to your skin. Choose a fabric like synthetic and merino wool (NOT cotton! – Cotton takes a long time to dry and loses its insulating qualities as it gets wet) that dries quickly and wicks moisture up to the outer layers where it is evaporated, keeping you nice and dry. When you’re camping in the snow, it’s best to have 2 base layers – a lightweight one and a midweight one. Next is your middle layer, which serves as insulation to retain body heat. Down or fleece works best for this layer (again, stay away from cotton). Finally, your outer layer should be waterproof, windproof and well ventilated. Laminates, such as Gore-Tex and eVent, are prime for warmth and breathability, as they are designed to allow sweat to escape as moisture vapor instead of trapping it underneath the fabric. Polyurethane-coated fabrics are less-expensive alternatives to laminates and are equally as waterproof, though they are a bit less breathable.

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Maintain good circulation. When you have poor blood flow to certain parts of your body, you will have a very difficult time getting warm. Make sure that you don’t wear too many pairs of socks, as each extra one will fit tight on your foot. If the circulation in your feet becomes constricted, your feet will be cold no matter how many pairs you have on. It’s best to wear a thin, breathable pair of socks under a pair of thick, cushiony socks. Make sure that you boot laces are not tied too tight – this could constrict blood circulation as well. Also, wear gloves and liners that are not too tight, as they can prevent your hands from warming up. A good tip for helping your hands and feet stay toasty, especially in the morning, is to sleep with your gloves, liners, socks and boot insoles in your sleeping bag.

Drink lots and lots of water. Dry winter air dehydrates you faster than warmer air for various reasons. Mainly, you just don’t tend to get thirsty when you’re cold. And when you don’t feel thirsty, you don’t drink water and can dehydrate very quickly. It’s vitally important to drink tons of water in cold temperatures because water allows your body to generate heat, your body is working harder under the weight of all your extra clothing, and your sweat is evaporating much more rapidly in cold, dry air. Checking your urine periodically to see how clear it is a good way to make sure that you are properly hydrated. And to keep your water from freezing, put your water bottle in a wool sock, insulated bottle sleeve or a DIY cell foam sleeve. Mixing the water with something like lemonade or Gatorade will also cause it to freeze at a lower temperature than plain water.

Choose your campsite wisely. Pick a site with a lot of trees that is as sheltered from the wind as possible. If your only option is an exposed campsite on snow, dig a 1-2′ deep hole in which to put your tent, which will reduce the amount of wind that blows against your tent. Dig a pit at the entrance of the same depth to make getting in and out of the tent easier. Make sure to pack down the snow before you set your tent up – otherwise, your body will melt a deformation in the powder, which will refreeze and be very uncomfortable to sleep on. Also, avoid three-season tents, as they may be too ventilated and not sturdy enough to handle blustery winter winds and snow buildup. If you know what’s right and decide to hammock camp, find a spot with as many trees as possible, because hanging your tarp among trees will help block the wind. A tarp like the HouseFly, which has silicone impregnated nylon sides, overlapping doors and the most coverage of all ENO’s tarps, is great for keeping out any winter storm that may come your way. And don’t forget your sleeping pad, underquilt and topquilt! With all the right components, you’ll be swinging away in toasty bliss.

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Be smart with your food. When you winter camp, your body will need as much as twice the calories it usually needs. Choose foods that will provide your body with energy. Proteins like jerky (try Threshold Provisions‘ salmon jerky – an awesome source of amino acids and omega-3′s) and dehydrated eggs are great for bringing along on trips. Nuts containing fats, and carbohydrates like breads, oatmeal, dried fruits and candy will also boost your energy. If you’re backpacking, snack on your food throughout the day, taking short breaks or munching as you go instead of taking long lunch breaks. This will keep you from cooling down too much and then needing to adjust and put on more layers. Carry a small insulated thermos of hot cider, chocolate or soup on your pack hip belt so that you can take a sip here and there to warm up. Also, having a late-night snack before you go to bed will give your body enough fuel to generate heat during the cold night.

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And last but not least be sure to pack a winterized first aid kit.

 

This checklist is by no means comprehensive, but a basic overnight first aid kit should include the following items:

  • Bandages: Assorted sizes for small cuts, blisters, etc.
  • 4-inch closure strips or butterfly closures: For closing large wounds. 4-inch strips are more effective than butterfly.
  • 4 inch by 4 inch sterile dressing pads (5 to 10): To apply pressure to a wound and stop bleeding
  • Non-adherent sterile dressing (2 inch by 2 inch): Use these or Second Skin to cover blisters, burns or lacerations.
  • Gauze roll: Holds dressing in place.
  • Small roll of 1-inch adhesive tape: Holds dressings in place.
  • Multi-use tool or knife: Should include knife, scissors. A scalpel and blade are also useful for first aid.
  • Forceps or tweezers: For removing splinters, ticks, and removing debris from wounds.
  • Scissors: Trauma scissors, which have a blunt end to protect the patient, can be used for cutting away clothing from injury, cutting medical tape, etc.
  • Thermometer: Digital is generally more accurate, but batteries do wear out.
  • Malleable splint: Lightweight foam-covered aluminum, such as a SAM splint.
  • Irrigation syringe (35 cc): Used to flush and clean wounds.
  • Suction syringe (65 cc): Used to clear mouth of fluids when giving CPR.
  • Safety pins: Can help remove splinters, fasten arm sling, or make a whole in a plastic bag for improvised wound irrigation.
  • Cotton-tip swabs: For removing  foreign objects from eye, or applying antibiotic ointment.
  • Resealable plastic bags: Many uses, including icing a swollen joint or creating wound irrigation device.
  • ACE, Coban, or other rubberized bandage: Can be used as outer wrap on splints, wound dressings or support for joint injuries. Be careful not to wrap too tightly.
  • Antiseptic towlettes: For cleaning small wounds.
  • Cleansing pads with lidocaine: For cleaning. Includes a topical anesthetic for abrasions, stings, etc.
  • Topical antibiotic ointment: For application to wounds. Simple Vaseline can also be used in dressing a wound.
  • Moleskin: Prevents blisters. Cut and apply a section to your foot as soon as you discover a “hot spot.” Duct tape also works for this purpose.
  • Povidone Iodine USP 10 percent, 1 oz.: For preventing infection. Bottled PVD iodine 10 percent solution should be diluted to a ratio of 1 percent or less for flushing wounds.
  • Aloe vera gel: Found in packets or small bottles for relief of minor burns.
  • Pain relievers, including aspirin and Ibuprofen: Provides relief for minor aches and pains, reduces fever, helps reduce inflammation of sprains and other injuries.
  • Antihistamines: For relief of pollen allergies, or to reduce reaction to bites and stings.
  • Immodium 2 mg capsules or tablets: For relief of diarrhea from intestinal infections.
  • Pepto Bismol or antiacid tablets: For relief from general diarrhea, abdominal upset.
  • After Bite or hydrocortisone cream USP 1 percent: Relieves skin irritation from bites, poison oak, stings, or allergic reactions.
  • Latex or nitrile gloves: Protects against blood-borne diseases and infection.
  • CPR microshield mask: A compact flexible barrier with a one-way valve for rescue breathing, which protects user from blood, vomit or saliva.
  • Oral rehydration salts: Packet of electrolyte salts and glucose for treatment of dehydration, heat exhaustion, or loss of fluids from vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Space bag/blanket: Lightweight emergency shelter. For treating hypothermia victims. Lightweight camp towel and large towel. I don’t normally recommend specific products but in this case the Lightload Camp Towel and Travel Towels are worth their LACK of weight!
  • Paper and pencil: For recording medical data such as body temperature, pulse, time and date of symptoms, injuries, medicines administered, etc. Most repackaged kits include accident report forms.
  • Wilderness First Aid booklet: Many prepackaged first aid kits contain one. An excellent pocket guide is the Wilderness Medical Handbook by Paul Nicolazzo, available for $20 from Wilderness Medical Training Center,www.wildmedcenter.com or (509) 996-2502.first aid small

Some of the items above not commonly found in standard first aid kits (including forceps, CPR masks, trauma scissors,and suction syringes) can be purchased online fromWilderness Medicine Training Center.

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What to wear for fall hiking a check list

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The following is a clothing checklist for fall hiking. It applies both to children and adults. Once people are experienced with what their bodies require in various weather conditions, we allow individuals to tweak it according to their needs. This list also assumes that you will be spending the entire day outside without the luxury of easily being able to go indoors to warm up. If you are only going out for a couple of hours, you can adjust as necessary.

Head

  • Winter hat – a light fleece beanie works great
  • Balaclava or Buff (optional) – not required if you are bringing a hoodie (see below). We have found Buffs to be highly versatile pieces of clothing and highly recommend them.

Torso

  • Wool/synthetic undershirt – For more info on what we like to use, read our article onunderpants.
  • Wool/synthetic t-shirt
  • Wool/synthetic long-sleeve undershirt
  • Light-weight fleece hoodie (preferred) or fleece sweater
  • Windbreaker – the lighter weight, the better
  • Rain jacket (optional) – whether or not you need this will depend on the forecast. For fall we prefer to bring something waterproof, breathable, and durable. I.e. I wouldn’t recommend a rain poncho.
  • Insulated jacket (optional) – Something light-weight and windproof and preferably with a hood. This jacket is meant to be worn at rest stops. If you have to wear this to stay warm when hiking then you aren’t bringing enough other layers. In early fall or late spring when the temperatures are mild we don’t bother with this. In colder weather this becomes essential.

Hands

  • Wool/Synthetic light-weight gloves or glove liners
  • Mitts (optional) – in early fall or late spring when the temperatures are mild we don’t bother with these.
  • Light weight hand towel for accidents and wipe downs.

Legs

  • Wool/synthetic underwear – as with the undershirts, for more info on what we like to use read our article on underpants.
  • Wool/synthetic long underwear
  • Fleece pants (optional) – some people get cold more easily than others and long underwear isn’t enough.
  • Synthetic hiking pants – make sure they are highly wind resistant and durable.
  • Rain pants (optional) – whether or not you need this will depend on the forecast. As with the jacket, we prefer to bring something waterproof, breathable, and durable.

Feet

  • Wool/synthetic liner socks (optional) – in colder weather, these can add a little extra warmth
  • Wool socks – the warmer the better
  • Waterproof socks (optional) - in cold/wet conditions these are VERY helpful
  • Hiking shoes – we like to wear light-weight trail runners
  • Gaiters (optional) – we will bring these when we think there might be snow and/or ice
  • Crampons (optional) – we will bring these when we think there might be snow and/or ice

If you are going to be hiking in the fall during hunting season, make sure that one of your clothing items is blaze orange. You should also always bring along at least a basic first aid kit.

 First-Aid Checklist

Be prepared! Outdoor enthusiasts should always carry either a prepackaged first-aid kit or a DIY kit created using our comprehensive list as a guide.

Basic Care: Prepackaged first-aid kits available at REI typically contain many of the following items:

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Fall Bike Tours Michigan

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Michigan is on the chilly side much of the year, so cycling tour groups pack in a multitude of trips during summer and early fall. Outings range from two-day lakeside rides for families to longer trips that include hilly challenges in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Organized tours offer guides who ride with you, support vehicles or both — and they also make arrangements for your meals, camping or other lodging.

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The League of Michigan Bicyclists offers a variety of cycling tours during the summer. A two-day trip, Pedal and Paddle, is appropriate for families; you cycle on the Hart-Montague Trail and around lakes and get the chance to paddle a kayak or canoe on the White River. A three-day outing features rides along Lake Huron in the northeast part of the state. Two seven-day tours include Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with a ferry ride to Mackinac (Mackinaw) Island, and a trip along Lake Michigan’s vast shoreline—it includes swimming, playing in sand dunes and going through a tunnel of trees.

League of Michigan Bicyclists
416 S. Cedar St. Suite A
Lansing, MI 48912
888-642-4537
lmb.org

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The Tri-County Bicycle Association (TCBA) offers tours for various ability levels. The Summer Tour features short riding days in eastern Michigan, with stops at parks and swimming areas. The NorthWest Tour is a more challenging ride through the landscape in the northwest part of the state. TCBA’s best-known tour is the DALMAC (Dick Allen Lansing to Mackinaw), which includes a variety of routes. In the early 1970s, former State Representative Dick Allen created this ride to promote cycling in Michigan, and it has been going strong since then. Most TCBA tours are five days long.

Tri-County Bicycle Asso.
5825 Oak Knoll Dr.
Lansing, MI 48911
517-882-3700
biketcba.org

Timberline AdventuresdaveforwebSmall

Timberline Adventures, a Colorado-based company, offers a seven-day tour that begins in the Leelanau Peninsula with a ride among the cherry trees on country roads. The trip continues along the shore of Lake Michigan to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and visits the Grand Traverse Lighthouse in Leelanau State Park. Other spots include Torch Lake and the route from Harbor Springs to Cross Village, which has the nickname of “Michigan’s most scenic road.” The days can be challenging on this tour, so cyclists stay each night at comfortable inns and lodges.

Timberline Adventures
7975 E. Harvard
Denver, CO 80231
800-417-2453
timbertours.com

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14 essential travel gadgets

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21024-les-accessoires-indispensables-en-voyage

Neck cushion, mask and earplugs, motion sickness bracelets anti … a complete kit for the convenience of long journeys ©

Accessories “premium travel” Profile of Nature Every journey begins with a trip, or long and comfortable. This range of smart accessories ensures optimum passenger comfort by plane, car or train, whatever the duration of the trip.

Plus: The evil anti-bracelets transport 100% natural, based on the principles of acupuncture points

Price: Between 6.50 and 20 euros, depending on the chosen accessories

Where to buy: Directly on the site Website: Profile Nature

We of course would add our Travel hand towel as a must have travel accessory!

Traveling just got a whole lot easier with the Lightload Towels. From our beach sizes to hand sizes, lightloads are the bring-a-long must haves. Why? Weight and Packability can’t be beat. Imagine a beach towel that fits in your pocket or eight towels so light that a bandanna weighs more. Need we say more
 
 
 
 
If you would like to read the original article in French you can find it here. http://www.linternaute.com/voyager/magazine/selection/14-gadgets-indispensables-en-voyage/les-accessoires-indispensables-en-voyage.shtml
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Aspen Road and Mountain Bike Tours

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Aspen and the surrounding area provide spectacular and sometimes quite challenging terrain for mountain and road bikers. You will want to keep in mind, a good part of Aspen is comprised of wilderness area - The list below will provide you with information for available rides. You can also call the local Forest Service office at 970-925-3445 or visit the National Forest website. Keep in mind: Mechanized vehicles are not allowed within the Wilderness boundaries and this includes Mountain Bikes -

Recommended Mountain Bike Rides

Smuggler Mountain Road - Follow Neal Street to King Street to Park Street to smugglersSmuggler Mountain Road where the trip begins.  At the fork in the road (approximately 1 ½ miles), take a left.  This road travels uphill for one and a half miles to the Smuggler Observation Deck. Going left will connect you with an entire network of trails:  Smuggler Mountain Road to Hunter Creek Trail andSmuggler Mountain Road to Lenado Trail.

rio Grande trail

Rio Grande Trail – This trail begins behind the Post Office on Puppy Smith Street. The first two miles are paved.  The trail then crosses Cemetery Lane becoming a dirt trail at that point.  The trail proceeds northwest to Woody Creek. For more information on this trail and a map please visit Lay Some Tread. (EASY) We recommend biking to Woody Creek Tavern for lunch in our Day to Defy Ordinary Itinerary.

sunnysideSunnyside Trail – The trail begins on Cemetery Lane.  Follow Cemetery Lane from Hwy 82 where the road crosses the Roaring Fork River.  Approximately ¼ mile beyond this point, you will see the trail beginning on the right.

brush creek trail

 

Brush Creek Trail – The trail begins behind the tennis courts on Maroon Creek Road.  It crosses Buttermilk Mountain and finishes in Snowmass.  As this trail crosses private property, it is VERY important that bikers stay on the trail only.  Failure to do so could jeopardize future use of this trail.

The town of Snowmass has a variety of mountain bike trails to offer, some of our favorites include the Rim Trail, Tom Blake Trail, and the Government Trail. Click here for a link to their trail map.

Mountain Biking Essentials list

Spare Tubes or a Patch Kit
Even if you’ve gone tubeless, I usually have at least one tube and patch kit in my pack on a long ride. It’s a little quicker and easier to replace a tube than patching a tube on the trail. If the popped tube is worth salvaging, I’ll patch it up later when I get home from the ride.

Bike Pump
You can’t fix a flat tire without a pump. I use the Blackburn Airstik 2 Stage Pump because it’s very small and lightweight, but still powerful enough that it won’t tire you out just pumping up your tube. Or for an even more minimalist and time-saving option, a CO2 inflator is worth checking out. I’d recommend keeping a couple of full cartridges on hand if you’re going this route.

Tool Kit
You can assemble your own, or pick up a pre-assembled kit. At minimum, it should include the following:

First Aid Kit
You’ll probably need it when you don’t have it. Keeping a bike-specific first aid kit stowed away in your pack enables you to be at least somewhat prepared for the unexpected. One item that has come in handy time and time again is a towel. I like to throw a couple Lightload Towel pucks into my pack. They are as the name implies light 0.01 lbs, they take up almost no space and are surprisingly durable. Check them out here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qB-iPiqGQ0c

Light
On a long ride, one setback can leave you racing to beat sundown. A headlamp or handlebar light is good to throw in the pack. If I know I’ll be cutting it close, I’ll bring my NiteRider Pro 1200 along for the ride.

CLOTHING

As many of us know from staring at forecasts all winter long, the weather won’t always turn out how you expect.  When heading out on that all day ride, there are a few things I always try to carry with me.

Extra Layer or Jacket
A long sleeve jersey or a light cycling jacket with a bit of weather defense is a good choice. Depending on where you ride you may opt for more or less wind or water protection. For my longer rides I like to pack my Norrona Fjora Aero 100 Jacket because it is lightweight, packable, and breathable, yet still provides enough protection for the random storm.

Extra Socks
Are you expecting a little mud or water on your ride? Socks are easy to throw in the pack and would be nice to change into on your lunch break or when things dry out.

Gloves
It seems like every time I forget my gloves, I crash and cut up my hands.  Keep them in your pack so you don’t make the mistake I’ve made too many times!

Sunglasses
Even if it’s not a sunny day, glasses with clear or light-colored lenses are essential protection, coming in handy when you roll through a cloud of gnats or are banging through an overgrown trail. No-slip nosepads and grippy temples on sunglasses are kind of a must so they’re not slipping or bouncing around on your face. Interchangeable or, better still, photochromic  lenses are ideal for changing light conditions over the course of a long ride.

FUEL

Water
Hydration packs are the best option for these long rides. But if you already have a regular pack and aren’t looking to get a new one, you can do what I did and just purchase a hydration bladder separately.  For long rides, you’re probably going to want a three-liter one.

Drink Mixes
To go all day, it’s good to have more than just water.  An extra water bottle with a Skratch Labs mix will keep you replenished and less fatigued so you don’t get sloppy at the end of the trail.

Food
Aside from packing a sandwich for lunch, energy bars are good to throw in the pack. I usually bring a couple Clif Bars with me, but protein bars and energy gels will also keep you pedaling.

GEAR HACKS

Your pack is stocked and ready to go, but there’s always that off chance you’ll need to get creative to in order to make it down the trail. Zip ties are at the top of the list when it comes to bike gear hacks—they’re small, lightweight, and can be used to fix all kinds of things—like busted derailleur hangers, flapping fenders, and broken shoelaces—well enough to get you down from the mountain.

Be sure to bring along the other gear hack hall of famer, duct tape. If a zip tie can’t fix it, duct tape probably can, from sticking things onto your bike to bracing or splinting injured body parts like wrists or ankles. There’s no need to weigh down your pack with a huge 60-yard roll; bring along one of these emergency-sized rolls or wind 4-5 feet around a golf pencil or small stick and throw it in with the rest of your gear.

My own personal don’t-leave-home-without-it item is my wallet. And not only for the obvious access to emergency funds; a business card tucked into my wallet once came in handy on a ride on the Wasatch Crest Trail. After a second flat on the same tire, I discovered a small slash in the sidewall (the replacement tube blew out because of that hole).  It was a long way back in either direction, so we needed a quick fix.  I took the card out of my wallet (which I just happened to have with me), folded it up, and placed it on the inside of the tire against the slashed sidewall.  I aired up the second tube inside of that, and it held for the remainder of the ride. Since then, I’ve always made it a point to bring my wallet along instead of leaving it in the car, because it just might save the day.

- See more at: http://www.backcountry.com/explore/whats-in-the-pack-mountain-bike-essentials#sthash.Hn56Onn4.dpuf

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Love everything about the outdoors except wasps?

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Wasps can be a problem in your home; sometimes they can even sting and cause lots of pain and discomfort! Your yard imagescan be a “dangerous” place for you to relax. Sometimes wasp can even lead to great injuries in case you are allergic to their stings.

To try and keep the wasps off your home there are many ways which you can employ for you to get rid of them. The best way for you to go about it after you discover your home has been affected by the wasps is to look for natural ways that will help you to get rid of wasps.

This is due to several reasons, for instance, after you decide to make use of natural ways you will save your money in trying to keep the wasps off as well as avoiding any health complications in your home. The following are natural ways that you can use to get rid of wasps:

1.Use Soap Sprays

This is a method that you can easily apply in your home after you notice wasps are increasing in population. First, you need to identify the nests and prepare a solution of soap and other detergents that you use in your home.

With the help of a garden hose you can spray the nest with the solution. This will kill the wasps naturally hence making you get rid of them easily.

While spraying them you should be careful not to be stung by standing in a strategic position where they will not notice you easily.

2. Avoid Substances That Attract Wasps in Your Home

There are substances such as foods rich in sugar which wasps like a lot. After you make an effort and avoid throwing those foods in your home you will reduce attracting wasps to your home. Other foods that attract them include meat and pet foods. In case there are left overs of such foods in your home you should try and keep them in a bag that is sealed well to avoid cases where wasps may end up being attracted to your home.

3. Grow Plants That Deter Wasps

Plants such as wormwood, eucalyptus, mint and citronella are natural wasp deterrents. If possible you should grow those plants in your garden where they will deter away the wasps. Apart from the plants chasing away the wasps naturally they will also add beauty to your garden.

4. Put up Fake Nests

Wasps are known to be very territorial. After you but up a fake nest in your home you will reduce chances of wasps putting up nests in your home because they will think another colony is already established there. There are several materials in your home which you can use and come up with a fake wasp nest or buy a new one.

5. Block-off Underground Nests

Sometimes wasps can build an underground nest in your home. You can easily get rid of wasps in a natural way by blocking all the entrances of the wasps. When blocking the entrances and exits you need to ensure you block all of them so that you will deny the wasps access to food which will make them die over some time.

To ensure you block the entrances and exits completely you can decide to use a cover and add grease to make it a tight seal.

6. Hang a Sandwich Filled With Water

You can easily keep the wasps out of your house by hanging a sandwich filled with water. This will make the wasps think there is a spider web on your door which can trap them.

This is a simple trick that you can use to keep wasps out of your home easily. The sandwich is very easy for you to design and it will lead you to getting rid of wasps easily without killing them where they will migrate to other places away from your home.

7. Traps

For you to reduce the population of wasps in your home you can decide to come up with glass wasp traps which you can use and trap wasps in your home. When making use of the traps you need to use attractive baits which will enable you attract a lot of wasps so that you can reduce their population and even get rid of them completely

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The Ten Hidden Gem National Parks

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We here at Lightload Towels are always looking for that ultimate get-away from it all place. So when we ran across this article in Esquire we just had to check it out. How does 400+ square miles all to yourself in some of America’s most pristine and remote wilderness sound to you for a total get-away? According to Esquire these are 10 of North Americas least visited National Parks.

1) Kobuk Valleykobuk-valley-national-park-new-lg

Far and away (no pun intended) the least visited of our national parks system, Kobuk Valley National Park attracted only 847 visitors in 2007. Located in the Arctic Circle, accessible only by foot, dogsled or snowmobile, and featuring exactly zero designated trails and roads, the park’s title of least visited isn’t really that surprising.

What Kobuk Valley lacks in user-friendliness, however, it more than makes up for in sand dunes and caribou. The park is also a great place to experience the anomaly of 24-hour daylight (but only for one month a year).

 

2) Lake Clarklake-clark-np-lg

Concentrating all the best that Alaskan wilderness has to offer into a single park, it is surprising Lake Clark National Park and Preservation had only 5,549 visitors in 2007. Lakes, active volcanoes, three mountain ranges, glaciers, waterfalls, arctic-like tundra and even a rainforest comprise this majestic park outside of Anchorage. Sled dog teams were the best way to travel around the area until the 1960s, but they have recently faced competition from snowmobiles.

At 6,297 square miles, Lake Clark National Park provides plenty of open space for your personal enjoyment. With an average of only 15 visitors per day, this means each visitor has 419 square miles of pristine national park to him or herself every day

 

3) American Samoaamerican-smoa-np-lg

How many national parks can boast a rain forest and a coral reef? The National Park of American Samoa is unlike any other park, and if you weren’t one of the park’s 6,774 lucky visitors in 2007 (which, statistically, you probably weren’t), we suggest you check it out.

The park, which spans three islands, offers a chance to see some great wildlife, from flying foxes to humpback whales. Admission to the park is free, which is good news because you’ll probably need to book a couple flights to get there — and don’t forget your passport. Sure, it’s basically three-quarters of the way to Australia (a nonstop flight from Los Angeles takes about 10 hours), but the National Park of American Samoa is way cooler than one of those overcrowded touristy national parks.

 

4) Gates of the Arcticgates-arctic-np-lg

Don’t let Into the Wild scare you away from the almost-untouched-by-man natural beauty of the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve. Considering it’s roughly the size of Switzerland, it’s surprising that only 10,942 people ventured through this Alaskan park in 2007.

Millennia of glaciation and erosion have carved out a breathtaking array of valleys, rivers, mountains and crystal-clear lakes. For an opportunity to enjoy tranquility like you’ve never experienced before, head north — far, far, north — to this park, where you’re more likely to encounter a moose or caribou than another tourist

 

5) Isle Royaleisle-royale-np-lg

Isle Royale is a true hidden gem — perhaps this is why Michigan’s state gemstone (Isle Royale greenstone) is named after the remote little island that’s closer to Canada than it is to the States. Isle Royale is the largest island in Lake Superior, the greatest of the Great Lakes. Accessible only by boat or seaplane, Isle Royale National Park attracted 15,973 visitors in 2007.

Due to its remoteness, the island is populated by only about one third of the mammals that are found on the mainland. Interestingly, it is the only known place where wolves and moose live together without bears. If you don’t like crowds (or bears) pack up the seaplane and head to Isle Royale National Park.

 

6) North Cascadesnorth-cascades-np-lg

Considering its size and location (which is inconvenient, to say the least) it’s no surprise Alaska has so many parks on this list. While Alaskan national parks feature some truly amazing stuff, North Cascades National Park in Washington provides an opportunity to experience Alaska-like wilderness closer to home. In addition to bears, moose and cougars, the park has the most glaciers (more than 300 of them!) outside of Alaska. Sadly, that number is steadily decreasing as global warming continues to claim its victims, so go see them while you can.

Located in northern Washington, the park is popular among backpackers and hikers. Its 400 miles of trails also make it accessible to less-adventurous outdoor lovers. North Cascades National Park was enjoyed by 19,534 visitors in 2007.

 

7) Dry Tortugasdry-tortugas-np-lg

Looking for sunken pirate ships and lost treasure? Civil War history buff? Really into masonry? If any of these apply to you, then Dry Tortugas National Park is the park for you. Seventy miles west of Key West are the Dry Tortugas islands, so-called because they lack surface fresh water (“dry”) and Ponce de Leon caught a lot of sea turtles (“tortugas”) here in the 1500s.

The centerpiece of the park is Fort Jefferson, a behemoth brick fortress originally intended to protect the U.S. from Gulf Coast invaders (namely pirates), but also used as a Union stronghold during the Civil War. The fort, although never completed, is comprised of more than 16 million bricks, making it the largest masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere.

Dry Tortugas is also a great place to watch migratory birds in the spring. With almost 300 bird species in the park, birdwatchers are in for quite a treat. As the 60,895 people who visited the park in 2007 can attest, Dry Tortugas National Park offers some great history in an idyllic setting.

 

8) Wrangell-St. Eliaswrangell-st-elias-lg

The largest of all the national parks, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve is actually larger than nine states. It is almost impossible to understand the scope of this park without experiencing it firsthand. Glaciers and mountains — many of which could support their own national parks — are the only ones crowded here. The park’s 13 million acres provide a sprawling remote destination that is actually pretty accessible, as far as Alaskan national parks go. With 61,085 visitors in 2007, the park is increasing in popularity so enjoy its majesty before the Yellowstone crowd catches wind of it.

For those who just need some room to breathe, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park offers an average of 124 square miles per visitor, per day. That’s the size of the country of Malta — and it’s all waiting for you at Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. Smoky Mountain National Park, the most popular in the national park system, only offers a measly 0.03 square miles to each visitor each day.

 

9) Great Basingreat-basin-np-lg

Think of tourist destinations in Nevada and the first place your mind likely goes is Las Vegas. But our 36th state has so much more to offer than just strippers and slot machines. Head toward the Utah border and you’ll find Great Basin National Park, which attracted 81,364 visitors in 2007.

Thanks to an almost complete lack of civilization in these parts, the night skies of Great Basin National Park are among the darkest in the country. Think of the park as the yin to Las Vegas’ yang. Flashing neon lights are replaced with awesome, naked-eye views of the starry night — a rare opportunity for many. It’s estimated that two-thirds of Americans cannot see the Milky Way from their backyards, and as light pollution continues to worsen, chances to observe the cosmos as nature intended might be running out.

 

10) Katmaikatmai-np-lg

Katmai National Park in southern Alaska provides thrill seekers an opportunity to hike among 14 active volcanoes and the world’s largest population of protected brown bears. Active volcanoes and thousands of brown bears not extreme enough for you? Well the National Park Service Website also warns visitors to expect only “some sunshine” and to “be prepared for stormy weather.” And here’s the kicker: it also offers the caveat that “light rain can last for days.” Consider yourself warned.

With 82,634 visitors in 2007, Katmai National Park is the most visited of our least visited national parks.

All of these places are truly the “hidden gems” of North America, remote and unfettered by man or machine, so if you are planning a visit to one of these locations make sure you pack plenty Lightload Towels for the trip!

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Our Pick For The Top 10 Best Day Hikes

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Chesler Park Loop, Canyonlands National Park, Needles District, UtahChesler Park Loop
This loop in Canyonlands’ Needles District is a full-value 11 miles of desert: You’ll tiptoe past cryptobiotic soil, across slickrock, dip down and into a couple washes, and into Chesler Park, a flat meadow surrounded by “needles,” the red-and-white striped pinnacles up to 100 feet tall.
Click here to go to the official site

Half Dome Cables Route, Yosemite National Park, CaliforniaHalf Dome Cables Route
The stout 16.5-mile round trip hike (via the Mist Trail) hike leads to the cables up Half Dome’s back side, where you’ll take in a view of the entire Yosemite Valley, and head over to stand on top of the Visor, the granite perch sticking out into the abyss over Half Dome’s Northwest Face. Don’t hate this hike because it’s popular.
Click here to go to the official site. 

Angels Landing, Zion National Park, UtahAngels Landing

The Angel’s Landing Trail (photo, above) is a kind-of via ferrata in that you’ll hang onto log chains bolted to the rock on this route’s most-dangerous sections (hikers have fallen and died here). This might be as close as most of us get to climbing one of Zion’s big walls, minus all the technical rock gear and the portaledge.
Click here to go to the official site.

Presidential Traverse, Presidential Range, New HampshireThe Presidential Traverse
The only thing prouder than tackling the dozen-plus peaks of the Presidential Range in a day — at minimum 20 miles with 8,500 feet of elevation gain — is doing it over two or three days in the winter. But if winter suffering isn’t your thing, find a stable weather day in the summer or early fall and bounce along the ridge high above New Hampshire on whatever variation you choose — south to north, vice versa, summiting all the peaks in the range, or summiting just the peaks named after presidents. Any way you do it, it’s one of the biggest hiking days you can have in New England — in both views and exertion.
Click here to go to the official site

Glacier Gorge trail to Mills Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, ColoradoGlacier Gorge trail to Mills Lake
Maybe the fastest and mellowest way into Colorado’s alpine scenery, this 2.8-mile stroll only gains 700 feet on its way into the aptly named Glacier Gorge. Mountainsides sweep thousands of feet down to the series of lakes at the bottom of the U-shaped gorge, and the first, Mills Lake, may be the best place for lunch in the entire park. Walk onto the rock peninsula that pops out into the middle of the lake for the best view. The trail continues another 2.2 miles all the way back to Black Lake if you feel up for another 700 feet of elevation gain and the weather is stable.
Click here to go to the official site

Grandview Trail to Horseshoe Mesa, Grand Canyon National Park, AZGrandview Trail to Horseshoe Mesa
If you want the full canyon experience from the South Rim, you can try to hammer out the 4,400 feet of elevation down to the Colorado River and back up in a single day among the crowds on the South Kaibab and Bright Angel trails — or you can do this moderate hike and get the best views without dragging yourself on a desert death march. The Grandview Trail stays out front in the canyon, not dipping into side canyons or drainages, ensuring that the views never let up here. The short, round-trip six-mile hike still covers 2,500 feet of elevation loss (and then elevation gain on the way back up to the South Rim), so pack a lunch.
Click here to go to the official site

Tall Trees Trail, Redwoods National Park, CaliforniaTall Trees Trail
You know the redwood trees you can drive a car through? Yeah, they’re not on the pristine Tall Trees Trail, which tours a grove of majestic trees as big as any you’ll see in Redwoods National Park (up to 360 feet tall and 12 feet in diameter). To keep it that way and to protect the enormous redwoods there, the Park Service locks the gate six miles up the road from the trail and issues permits (and the combination to the lock) to only 50 cars per day. The entire hike here is only 3.7 miles, but takes a half-day to execute, including the 45-minute drive from the park visitor center where you’ll grab a first-come, first-served permit/key to the castle.
Click here to go to the official site

Harding Icefield, Kenai Fjords National Park, AlaskaHarding Icefield
This hike tackles a steep 4.1 miles alongside the active Exit Glacier, the only area of Alaska’s Kenai Fjords National Park that’s accessible by car, and leads to a one-of-a-kind viewpoint of the Harding Icefield, the largest icefield in North America at 300 square miles (or 1,100 square miles if you count all the glaciers descending from it). Peer into an Antarctica-worthy stretch of snow and ice, as far as you can see, a look back into the last ice age. The trail passes through areas of salmonberries, which means you might see a black bear on your hike — a nearly daily happening on this trail.
LINK Click here to go to the official site

 

Knife Edge, Katahdin, Baxter State Park, MaineKnife Edge
Katahdin’s iconic summit is famous for Thoreau’s writings about it and also famous for being the end of the 2,184-mile Appalachian Trail. Its “Knife’s Edge” might be the most famous ridgeline in the Northeast — the trail is only three feet wide with a thousand-plus-foot drop on either side. But don’t worry, that part only lasts for 1,500 feet. Start at the Roaring Brook Campground and take the Helon Taylor Trail 3.2 miles to the summit of Pamola Peak, where the Knife Edge leads to Katahdin’s summit.
Click here to go to the official site

 

Garnet Canyon, Grand Teton National Park, WyomingGarnet Canyon
Hiking into nearby Cascade Canyon is more popular, but Garnet Canyon delivers with less crowds: A half-day climb on good trail and a short bit of scrambling right into the heart of the Teton Range, in the shadow of the Middle Teton and the Grand above. Starting at the Lupine Meadows trailhead, you’ll climb more than 2,600 feet into the canyon, passing fields of wildflowers on your way up above views of Bradley Lake and Taggart Lake. Just over four miles of steady climbing takes you into the steep-walled canyon, winding around boulders and along streams, Depending on the time of day, you’ll be sharing the trail with climbers headed for the Middle and the Grand Teton.
Click here to go to the official site

Spray Park, Mt. Rainier National Park, WashingtonSpray Park, Mt. Rainier National Park
Mount Rainier’s trek up to Camp Muir is a sort of mini-Everest Base Camp trek for PNW dayhikers, and it’s certainly one of a kind — but Dan Nelson, author of the guidebookDay Hiking: Mount Rainier National Park, says his the best hike on the mountain is off in the northwest corner of Mount Rainier National Park, starting at Mowich Lake. He says what makes this 7-mile round-trip trek special are the meadows going from subalpine to alpine, colored by swaths of wildflowers and sparkling blue ponds, and the awe-inducing views of Rainier whenever it appears.
Click here to go to the official site

 

 

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A Master Camping Checklist…

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From beginners to veterans – a checklist can make the difference between a camping trip that is as fun as you hoped, or one you suffer through.

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Free printable camping checklist. From lists for camping gear and supplies, to food and kids clothes. Happy Campers Camping-Checklis

You should have your camping checklist in hand as you load your camping gear – and turn those checks you made when you gathered your gear into “Xs” that will let you know you actually loaded it – instead of remembering to gather it, and then leaving it on the garage floor when you actually packed to leave.

From the “Master” camping gear checklist for the trip organizer, to a personal gear list the kids can do – these free printer-friendly supplies, and equipment printouts will help ensure nothing gets forgotten.

It can also help you avoid taking gear you don’t need. Why carry a heavy Dutch oven when you will only be using a frying pan? As you scan the list below, don’t get overwhelmed – remember, you will not need everything on it. It is intended to include everything you might need, not everything you have to take.

 

What To Bring: Gear

Packing for an overnight trip requires more gear than a day hike. (Print out a gear list to make sure you pack what you need.) When you’re first starting out, you may want to rent or borrow gear before making such a significant gear investment. Keep in mind, though, that items like backpacks need to fit you well for maximum comfort, meaning borrowed or rented gear might not be as comfortable as gear that’s been fitted to you.

More gear means more weight – a pack loaded with the necessary gear, food and water generally weighs between 30 and 40 pounds for a 2-4 day trip; longer trips require heavier pack loads, but that doesn’t mean your pack has to weigh you down. The key is packing what’s necessary without creating an impossibly heavy pack. Ultralight gear can help, if your budget allows, but sticking to the basics will allow you to backpack comfortably without spending thousands of dollars on new gear. Remember every pound counts!

Clothing

If there’s one rule for clothes in the backcountry, it’s layer, layer, layer. That way you can add or peel off clothing if you feel too cold or too hot. Make sure to avoid cotton: it’s a poor insulator when wet, making you feel colder and increasing your risk of hypothermia. Look for synthetic or wool materials instead.

Other clothing to bring includes:

Backpack

You’ll need a backpack that will provide enough space for all your gear without causing you discomfort. In terms of size, you should choose a bag with a volume between 40 and 70 liters (2400 to 4200 cubic inches) for most 2-4 day trips, and a pack of at least 70 liters (4200 cubic inches) for trips 5-days or longer.

For comfort, style is less important than fit. There are two general styles, internal and external frame, and either one can make a perfect backpacking pack. The key is to make sure that 80 percent of the pack weight is carried by your hips. This is ensured by proper fit, particularly with internal frame packs. Get good advice from an experienced outdoor gear retailer and try on many varieties to find one that feels best.

Tent

To find a tent, consider when you’ll be camping, where you’ll generally go and how many people will use the tent. For most backpacking, three-season tents work great. They’re a snap to set up, are great in most weather, and their parts can be split up between your backpacking buddies to reduce weight. Take a look at this page on How to Buy a Tent for tips on purchasing your first tent.

For extra protection, you can opt to bring a ground tarp. Just make sure the it’s two inches shorter than the edges of the tent, since larger ground covers can funnel water to you, leaving both you and your tent soaked.

Sleeping Bag and Pads

Choosing the right sleeping bag and pad can mean the difference between a good night’s sleep and a long, uncomfortable night followed by a tired, miserable day.

Sleeping bags are generally rated with a degree, which indicates the lowest temperature at which the sleeping bag will keep you comfortable (e.g. a “20 degree” bag should keep you warm in temps above 20 degrees). When choosing a bag, keep in mind that even in summer, night temperatures can dip below freeing in the mountains. This means it’s a good idea to choose a “three-season” bag that’s rated between 0 and 15 degrees – it’ll keep you warm even when cold and, if it’s too warm, you can always unzip it slightly to let in cooler air.

Sleeping pads insulate you from the cold and from any rocks or roots on the ground. Many backpackers like Therm-a-Rests or other “self-inflating” pads, but if you’re looking to save weight or money, an inexpensive closed-cell pad can often fit the bill nicely.

The Essentials and First Aid Kit

On top of the big ticket items, there are a few smaller pieces of gear that you should never enter the backcountry without. You’ll find more details here, but for the meantime make sure you always pack these Essentials:

Map and Compass (See above)

First Aid Kit (read here for what you’ll need)

Extra Layers and Rain Gear

Firestarter and matches

Multi-tool or knife

Flashlight or headlamp and extra batteries

Sun screen and sunglasses

Extra food (see below)

Water and a way to purify it (see below)

light weight super absorbent towel (I happen to like the Lightload Camp Towels they are inexpensive and super absorbent)

A note on First Aid:

Before heading into the backcountry, make sure that your First Aid kit is well stocked, and check to make sure nothing’s out of date. It’s also a good idea to take a Wilderness First Aid (or better yet First Responder) course so that you’re prepared in case of emergency. Find out more about that here.

Other Misc. Items

What to Bring: Food and Water (and the kitchen!)

Water

It should come as no surprise that water is one of the top Essentials. Backpacking can be hard work, and you’ll need to keep hydrated, especially on hot days. A good rule of thumb is to drink a liter and carry a liter at all times, that way you can be sure to have extra in case of emergency.

Of course, you can’t just drink water straight from the stream. Even the purest looking water can contain pathogens like giardia, which can cause serious illness in the backcountry. Luckily, there are a number of ways to treat water to make it safe for drinking. The simplest and most effective method is simply bringing water to a boil. (No need to wait a certain length of time after it starts boiling- the heating process is enough to kill any pathogens). When you’re not at camp, though, you can use chemical water treatments or filters to make water drinkable.

Food

Eating is pretty important when you’re burning around 5,000 calories a day, if not more. It’s so important, in fact, that we’ve dedicated an entire section to backcountry cooking, including recipes and meal ideas. One thing to think about when shopping for backcountry foods is weight to calorie ratio. Look for lightweight foods, like dehydrated refried beans or hummus mix, rice, and noodles, that will fill you up and give you energy without loading you down. Avoid cans, bottles or bulky packaging that you’ll have to carry out later. If you have the budget for it, pre-packaged dried meals can be a good choice, though certainly not a necessary one, as this article points out.

Freeze Dried Food
Prepackaged meals are easy to prepare, weight little and are quick to clean up. They aren’t cheap, however, and quality varies.

Breakfast options range from the old standby — instant oatmeal — to more creative ideas, like homemade granola, instant soups, toaster pastries, or even pancakes laden with fresh mountain huckleberries. Hot cocoa or Tang can make waking up on a cold morning that much easier.

Lunch is almost always eaten on the trail and usually consists of dense, calorie-rich foods such as bagels, cheese, nuts, salami, trail mix, dried fruit, powdered hummus, jerky, M&Ms, drink mixes (such as powdered Gatorade) and energy bars. Snack throughout the day to keep energy levels higher and to avoid feeling full.

Dinner is probably the most flexible of the meals. Once you make camp, you have plenty of time to prepare more involved recipes, if you so choose, or you can keep it simple with pre-packaged mac-and-cheese (just make sure to bring dehydrated milk) or dehydrated refried beans with instant rice. If you have a sweet-tooth, you can even opt for backcountry desserts.

Cooking Gear

Your backcountry kitchen can be as complex or simple as you choose. The most basic kitchen needs little more than a lightweight backpacking stove and fuel, a pot and pot grip, a large metal spoon (for cooking), and bowls, spoons, or even dutch ovens.

Stoves generally break into two categories: white gas and butane/propane. White gas stoves have a metal fuel bottle you refill with camping gasoline, and these generally burn hotter than canister stoves. You usually need to prime the stove, which adds time to the cooking process.

Canister stoves are simpler to light. Fuel is contained in a sealed cylinder that you toss out when empty. Some downsides include more expensive fuel, and more waste. But canister stoves are extremely lightweight and easy to use. Both options are very lightweight and work quite well for most backpacking trips.

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