I woke to a very cold morning. It was extremely hard to get out of my very warm anti-hypothermia cocoon of a sleeping bag. Condensation was covering the inside of the tent. I had been woken up by a sound that can only be described as a Harrier jet landing in the camp. This sound only meant one thing. Coffee was being made. I reluctantly but carefully put on my warm layers and clothes for the day. I began to pack up the gear inside of my tent. Once I had everything ready it was time to unzip the outer most vestibule door. I cringed as I pushed the door aside and the warm air was instantly gone and a surge of fresh and clean morning mountain air. I grab a few things and head down to an already growing campfire.
Fresh made to order omelets were on the menu for breakfast plus left over cobbler. When I mean fresh I mean not dehydrated in any way eggs, sausage, and chopped veggies all laid out for us to add to our eggs. The best part about making them is that we put the eggs and other chosen ingredients into a ziploc bag. After the ingredients were mixed thoroughly we simply dropped our “bag o omelet” into a large pot of boiling water.
Like any good story we can not skip the first chapter to get to adventure. If you would like to read a summery you can find that here. Before I get to the daily write ups I wanted to go back to the beginning and share the story of how this project got started and how we ended up with 12 adventures geared up with awesome gear backpacking and white water rafting in stunning Idaho. WARNING LONG READ!
Everything started with an email from Parker at Americas Rafting Company. He needed help promoting this idea of a mixed backpacking and white water adventure. I scheduled a phone meeting with Parker shortly after receiving the email. On the call he explained what he was looking to do and wanted help with ideas on how to make this whole adventure possible. I told him that I would think on it and get back with him. Parker has an incredible love and passion for the Idaho wilderness and the rivers. His passion is simply contagious. When I hung up the phone I told my self that I had to help with this project. His passion pushed me to want to go to Idaho that very day. It was that passion that we would come to find out on night before we hit the river was that this was ARC’s first time doing the backpacking portion of the trip. The guides and Parker had all grew up or packed in that area and knew it very well. It was their first foray into leading a group of any size into the Devil’s shadow. (more…)
Story Submitted by Hank Vlietstra
On one of my bigger backcountry backpacking trips in the Canadian Rockies, I was in the midst of 3 glorious days above treeline near Cataract Pass at the boundary of Jasper National Park. While descending towards Nigel Pass late one September afternoon, a large herd of bighorn sheep was going up the valley, right towards me. They let me walk down the trail right into their midst. It was pure magic – unforgettable. They crossed the river right in front of me, and the little ones were playfully head-butting each other right nearby. Wildlife encounters in the backcountry are always some of the most memorable parts!!
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Hiking trails provide enjoyment for people around the world. Every country offers its own unique variations on the standard trail. In fact, a person can tell a lot about a country from hiking its trails. For example, the National Trail in Canada has a socialist connotation to it that exemplifies the zeitgeist of today’s Canada, while the sprawling Appalachian Trail exemplifies the majesty and Freeman of the United States of America.
Every trail has a story to tell. The landmarks along these corridors were not built by man. Just witnessing the beauty that occurs in nature without any help from man kind is more than enough to justify the existence of God. The language of beauty translates to every culture. An Italian man can enjoy the same hiking trail just as much as a Japanese woman.
Distance hiking has been embraced by people of every country. In the eastern US, people travel from all around to hike the Appalachian Trail for months at a time. In France, it’s the GR-10 they flock to travel to behold the breathtaking views offered by the Alps. Hiking these long trails is said to be life changing for the many people who attempt the feat every year.
The trails of a country can tell hikers much about the culture of that land. Most hiking trails have incredible histories. The best trails are the ones that remind the hikers of a bygone way of life. The Bill Williams Mountain Trail is a great example of this. It was used as a crucial horse trail before their were any cars of bicycles. It’s easy to imagine many ambushes and gunfights taking place along the winding path.
Some hiking trails have been around for thousands of years. The hilly Warrior Trail in Greensboro, Pennsylvania is over five thousand years old. American Indians enjoyed the gorgeous pastoral views along the trail as they traded flint.
Hiking trails exhibit the characteristics of the lands where they are located. The cereals, mountains, fjords, ravines, volcanoes, beaches and everything else become part of the trail. The trails of the Cycladic islands in Greece are laid back and gorgeous with many beaches and scenic views. He trails at Runyon Canyon offer scenic views of the Los Angeles skyline bathed in sun in the Hollywood Hills.
Hiking the trails of a certain area is a great way to see the wildlife that lives there. Many hikers on Mount Scott in Oklahoma see buffalos hanging out in their paths. Hikers in the Everglades can see falcons, egrets and rare echoes of turtles, among other things. A wide variety of birds are sure to do amazing things around any hiking trail with a plethora of gorgeous tress, which most have. Trees live on feelings and amplify good vibes. Try smiling to one and you’ll get a beautiful smile back.
The world is full of incredible hiking trails just waiting to explored. Every backyard has one nearby that is truly magnificent and hidden from indoor-dwelling dead people. Get outside and live. Experience this world while you still can.
Scott Amundson is the writer of The World’s Best Hiking Trails, a free ebook that you can find at worlds-best-hiking-trails.com.
It’s not always realistic to be able to spend a week or a month enjoying long trails and rural camping. During the summer, day trips and weekend camping trips are a fun and active mini-vacation. Here is your guide to the Midwest– a lot of hiking with a small side of camping if time allows.
Morgan-Monroe State Forest, IN
Indiana has nearly 2,500 miles of trails open to backwood hikers. Morgan-Monroe State Forest is one of the best places to take a day trip, or to settle down and camp for a while as you explore the scenery. It has three trails that are less than one mile long, including the Tree Identification Trail, where you learn about native trees.
There are also four longer, more rugged trails for those who are advanced hikers. The Mason Ridge Loop is a 2.7 mile trail of moderate difficulty, and the Three Lakes Trail and Low Gap Trail each span 10 miles and are more challenging to navigate. As the name implies, Three Lakes Trail passes by three lakes; Bryant Creek Lake, Cherry Lake, and Prather lake, where boating and fishing is popular. Gold panning is another unique activity, but a free license is required through the Forest Office.
Morgan-Monroe State Forest has 19 camping sites for tents and RVs, as well as 6 group sites. Primitive camping is also allowed with a permit, and there are also lodge rooms and cabins available to rent on a day-to-day basis.
Itasca State Park, MN
Itasca State Park offers year-round opportunities for the avid hiker. There is a total of 49 miles of trails, with certain ones offering 9-mile hikes or longer. In the park you’ll find 27 kinds of orchids, a wide variety of wildflowers, as well as red and white pines, and the trails wrap around many different lakes which are perfect for swimming in the summer.
There is also a 1.5 mile wheelchair-accessible trail, so even those who can’t do traditional hiking can enjoy the scenery, birdwatching, and fishing. In the off season, trails are available for snowshoeing and cross country skiing.
If you are an ardent hiker you’ll be spending long days exploring the park, and there are plenty of lodging options. If you are with a large group (up to 21 people), you might want to consider renting a clubhouse or group center, otherwise there are plenty of RV campgrounds and traditional tent sites. If you are traveling with pets you will be more limited in your options as the rented facilities do not allow them, but they can stay on leashes in your trailer or at your campsite. There are also very limited electric sites, so if you bring your trailer plan on camping dry if you have not made reservations.
Custer State Park, SD
Custer State Park is good for groups with hikers of varying levels because it has a variety of different trails. Sunday Gulch Trail is one of the more difficult, crossing streams and passing over boulders. You’ll see diverse and rare plant life as well as granite walls. This trail is only open from May-November, and there is still sometimes ice through the month of June. For those who are just beginning hiking, are not physically fit, or who are traveling with small children, the Creekside Trail might be more appropriate. It is only two miles long, is relatively level, and is even rollerblade friendly.
French Creek Natural Area is the longest of the trails spanning for 12 miles one-way. It is a moderately difficult trail and crosses through creeks several times. It also is not marked, but hikers will find it easy to follow the paths that other hikers have worn.
One of the benefits of the French Creek Natural Area is that primitive camping and backpacking is allowed all throughout. In other parts of the park there are campsites that accommodate tents, RV’s, and other types of trailers with electrical hook-ups. There are also group campsites, and campsites designated for non-profit youth groups.
Andi Singer is lifestyle writer working with Indiana RV Connection to share the best hidden treasures of the Midwest. She feels blessed to be able to work and travel at the same time, and enjoys sharing her travels with her hunting dog.