Mike "Hikerbox" Henrick is a seasoned backpacker about to embark on an exciting adventure to thru-hike the Te Araroa, Arizona, and Continental Divide Trails for a total of 5,500 miles, and all to raise funds for the respective trail organizations.
1) How did you get started backpacking?
My folks took me car camping and enrolled me in the cub scouts when I was little which helped make sleeping outdoors seem more normal early on. I really think introducing kids to the outdoors early is more important than most realize. However, the real impetus for my wanderlust was when my older brother Chris and his two friends took me on a 2,000 mile segment from upstate NY to Fargo, ND of their unsupported cross country bike tour to the west coast. Fully loaded, my bike weighed almost 70 lbs with all the REI style gear. How things have changed!
I was happy with road biking and racing for a few years but eventually felt too constrained with pavement so I started mountain biking, which got me back into the woods. I still love the zen and thrill of it today. A few years ago I realized there are so many incredible places only accessible by foot if you can live without the thrill of bombing down rock strewn hills and avoiding hugs from trees on a bike. I did a few short backpacking trips in New England before the wanderlust became too strong and led to a 2013 through-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail (minus the 60 miles north of the Saufley's that was on fire and getting worse by the day). Now I have plans for the AZT, GET, CDT and Te Araroa! (Photo of Mike courtesy of Sectionhiker.com)
David Fanning’s thru-hike on the Colorado Trail (CT) this summer was not only a grand adventure in his backyard, but a lesson in the unexpected and serendipitous nature of what a long distance trail can provide, when you least expect it.
The avid backpacker has spent decades exploring wilderness areas near his home in Northern Colorado, and currently the Rawah Ranger, as he is known on his blog, spends much of his time as a backcountry ranger for the Poudre Wilderness Volunteers.
David’s connection with the land can be traced back to a trip he did at 19 hiking the Oregon section of the Pacific Crest Trail. “That was the first backpacking trip I ever took in my life,” he explained. “I went to JC Penney and bought all gear. I was wet all the time and did everything wrong, but learned I could take care of myself and survive. I spent the last night on the trail curled up next to a toilet,” he said laughing. “It was a learning experience that changed my life, and made me more adventurous and willing to take risks. I applied that to all areas of my life really.”
That adventurous spirit first urged him to backpack the length of Colorado in the 1980s. He and his wife hiked the divide before the Continental Divide Trail was a trail, piecing together routes and trails the length of Colorado. “It was spectacular,” he remembered. “I always had a desire to go back and do that again.” After a health scare this summer, he and his wife had to recognize the impending limitations of age and illness, and asked themselves what they would want to do before they couldn’t do it anymore. David’s answer was hike the Colorado Trail.
You have completed your ultralight set-up, now it’s time to hit the trail, but unless you have had your sights set on a particular long distance trail, where to go?
We will periodically cover some of some lesser-known long distance trails in our blog. From a week to a few months, these hikes will help you scratch the backpacking itch and stretch your legs. Do you have a trail you think backpackers would want to know about? Send us an email and we’ll spread the word.
Trans Adirondack Route, 236.4 miles, Northeast U.S.
Can’t get enough of the rugged New England mountains? The Trans Adirondack Route is one of the newest adventures out there, and it does exactly what the name implies, crosses New York State’s Adirondack Park from border to border.
This route was established in 2013 by intrepid adventurer and hiker Erik Schlimmer. What started with an idea for a 220 mile cross country traverse of the park in 2005, became a reality years later when he connected a network of existing trails, bits of roads, snowmobile trails, and what turned out to be just 10 miles of trackless woods.
Gary “Shutterbug” Lawton, completed his thru-hike of the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) this year, not only with a whole gear shop cheering him on his way, but as the Mountain Shop’s (a Portland, Oregon ultralight specialty store) resident thru-hiking expert, he continues to model ultralight practices in the best test-market available, the trail.
The Continental Divide Trail is Shutterbug’s second 2,000 + mile trail, having thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in 2012 prior to joining the staff at the Mountain Shop. His shelter for both long trails was the 11oz Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape, which he paired with the 11oz Serenity Net on the CDT.
Working as a sales and merchandising specialist for the outdoor store is a unique situation; by specializing in the smaller, ultralight, cottage industry brands like Six Moon Designs, the Mountain shop has become experts on the gear and ambassadors of the ultra-light principals.
“As an ultralight hiker, gear weight is important, but when an item can serve more than one purpose, that's a bonus,” Shutterbug explained. “The Gatewood Cape is my primary choice for a shelter. On parts of the PCT, which is often dry for the majority of the hike, and for the drier, more predictable sections of the CDT, such as New Mexico, I ditched the rain gear and relied on my Cape as my shelter and rain gear. I love the simplicity of design and function of the Gatewood Cape.”
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