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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? From a week to a few months, these hikes will help you scratch the backpacking itch and stretch your legs.
The Bigfoot Trail, 360 miles - Northern California
Does your imagination run wild when you are on a backpacking trip? Maybe the Bigfoot Trail is for you. This 360 mile trail could put you face-to-face with the mythical beast, or more likely, will submerge you in a world of incredible biodiversity. Either way, this “shorter” trail in Northern California is a great option for those looking for a more remote experience in the backcountry.
Proposed by avid hiker and naturalist Michael Kauffman in 2009, the Bigfoot Trail winds through the Klamath Mountains passing through six wilderness areas, and a national & state park. The true wonder of this route though, is in the 38 different species of conifers hikers will encounter. Diverse habitats are the direct result of the mix of five different biotic regions: the Cascades, Coast Range, Great Basin, Central Valley, and Sierra Nevada. This mixture of geology, time, and diversity add up to over 3,500+ species of plants including the conifer, and a rich variety of wildlife.
The trail briefly connects with the Pacific Crest Trail in the Marble Mountain Wilderness, but because many of the trails and roads the route travels on haven’t been maintained regularly, some of the navigation may be tricky, and the hiking more time consuming. It’s worth it though, and as the Bigfoot Trail Association grows and more hikers head out on this route, the trail will continue to develop.
The Bigfoot Trail Association sells maps and a guidebook, and includes information on water sources, conifer species, resupply points and more; a new forum page on the website is a great place to find out more information on the trail. So brush up on your navigation skills and head to Northern California for your next big adventure.
Packrafting has been a great new adventure that has helped me explore the wilderness in a new way. By combining my love of backpacking, and my boyfriend’s love of kayaking, we’ve found the perfect combination to satisfy both of our preferred modes of travel.
We’ve been using Alpacka’s Llama packrafts, which weigh about 8-9 pounds after we installed thigh-straps, a few more tie-down points, and the cargo-fly, which allows you to pack all of your gear INSIDE the boat instead of on the bow of the boat. The packraft itself has a whitewater spray skirt to keep water out of the boat, and because we do tend to take the boats on rivers up to Class IV, we carry helmets, life jackets, throw-bags, patch kits, paddles, and dry bags. All those items can add up even though the rest of our gear is a light-weight backpacking set-up
In order to fit all that boating and hiking/camping gear into a pack for the “packing” portion of any trip, we have tried a variety of different backpacks, sometimes strapping most of our gear to the outside, or turning our backpack into the “leaning tower of Pisa” to fit everything in. The load can be quite heavy, and most of our configurations have been quite uncomfortable.
This week we catch up with Lee Gillies for our 10 Questions post. Lee hikes for the freedom, fresh air, exercise, and perspective on life. He also finds it’s also a little easier logistically than lugging a bike around for trips!
1) How did you get started backpacking?
I was interested in bicycle touring for a while. While researching routes and looking at maps I realized that I was getting more and more off the beaten track, more off-road and drawn towards the hills and wild places. Eventually, with all of the hassles of train journeys, finding places to stay that accommodate bikes, not to mention, the times when I'd have to leave the bike locked up while I plodded up a mountain trail, I thought 'why not just leave the bike at home?'. That really freed me up to explore backpacking, walking and the pursuit of 'ultralightness'.
2) What is your favorite piece of gear?
I am a bit of a gear junkie without being too much of a geek. I love my lightweight backpack but still sometimes struggle to remember what make and model it is (UAE CDT 52.5 ltr for the interested). I studied design at college and still love the phrase 'form follows function.' If something functions well, chances are I'll think it's beautiful and want it. I've also got a bit of a footwear fetish. I'm on a quest for the ultimate lightweight hiking footwear and the only way to find it is to buy as many pairs as possible :)
3) What is your favorite hike?
I 'm in love with the English Lake District right now. The whole area is paradise for hiking and there is so much to see. There isn't a specific route that I would rate above all others yet, but last summer's route up Catbells, over Maiden Moor, High Spy, Dale head and finishing with a night in Warnescale bothy, rates as a fantastic day out in great weather. Especially if you start it with a boat journey over Derwent Water to get you to the foot of the mountains.
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?
North Country Trail, 4,600 miles, New York to North Dakota
When talking about long trails, the Triple Crown trails (AT, PCT, CDT) have nothing on the 4,600 mile North Country Trail. This grand daddy of trails not only passes through seven states as it snakes from New York all the way to North Dakota, but passes through ten national forests, four National Park-managed sites, two national wildlife refuges, two bureau of reclamation projects, six army corps of engineer impoundments, 7 state parks and state historic areas, 47 state forests, 22 state game areas, seven state water conservation districts and at least ten county forests. Whew. It’s a long trail and as such, takes twice as long to hike as one of the other better-known long trails.
The North Country Trail’s (NCT) story starts with the creation of the National Trails System Act of 1968. In addition to creating the AT and PCT as National Scenic Trails, the act called for study on 14 other potential projects, including the North Country Trail. A long series of public meetings in proposed locations around the country followed, and the route was vetted by the public in these places. Now many of the initial route ideas are different than what you will find today, but the essence of the trail started with these three trails: the Fingerlakes Trail, Baker Trail, and Buckeye Trail. In 1980 these three trail organizations became affiliates of the North Country Trail Association, and essentially became the first three sections of the larger network. From there it grew with additions like the Superior Hiking Trail, and the Kekekabic and Border Route Trails along the Canadian border in Minnesota.
Does the environmental impact of modern-day travel influence your decisions on how to get to work or where you will take your next vacation? Finnish cyclist Taneli Roininen made the move 7 years ago to forgo motorized travel, but with a drive to see the world, had to come up with plan to do it under his own power. Cycling seemed the natural answer, so over the past 17 months he has put more than 18,000 (290,000km) miles on his bike traveling through more than 30 countries.
With two years to go to finish his circumnavigation, Taneli has already passed through Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, China, and Southeast Asia. “Next I will cycle across Australia and New Zealand, before starting the Pan American Highway from Argentina to Alaska. From Alaska I'll be cycling to the West coast of Canada before returning to Europe and cycling back home to Finland in 2018, though the plan seems to be changing all the time!” he exclaimed.
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