It’s Thanksgiving this week, what a great opportunity to share what we are thankful for.
Trails to hike on
Gear to get us there
Cold, clear springs
Down sleeping bags
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.
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