Posts Tagged ‘backpacking’

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hiking: The Agony of the ‘Death March’

Almost every outdoor recreationist has endured a long, arduous hike at some point. Sometimes these difficult hikes take on an added sense of misery due to blistered and sore feet, heavy downpours or especially voracious mosquitoes. When each step becomes a struggle, the miles seem to drag on without end and the trail becomes the central focus of the universe then the hike becomes a bona fide “death march”.

A death march, although miserable, is much less severe than the portentous term implies. A slightly less ominous term used to describe this phenomenon is the forced march. By any name, it remains one of the worst hiking experiences, and one to avoid if possible.
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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Dan Crane: Backpacking on a Shoestring Budget

Anyone who has ever walked into an outdoors store, or perused an online backpacking retailer, knows that backcountry adventuring can be really expensive. Modern high tech fabrics, over-engineered designs and trendy manufacturers are a recipe for one humongous bill on a credit card. It can be so disheartening to anyone on a budget, that probably more than a few people have left a store feeling woefully inadequate.

A lack of funds should not deter anyone from exploring the Adirondack backcountry though. Instead, it is an opportunity to show some ingenuity since there are many different strategies for getting some outstanding gear on a shoestring budget. Buying at the right time, taking advantage of a good deal, purchasing used equipment, and making your own gear are just a few ways to prepare for outdoor adventures without breaking the bank. Although, there may be a few cracks.
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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Whiling Away the Hours of a Backcountry Rain Delay

“Rain rain go away, Come again another day.”

Most likely, every backcountry enthusiast has uttered this popular nursery rhyme at one time or another when an unanticipated rainfall altered their hiking or backpacking plans. This is especially true for the Adirondacks, where pop-up showers are the norm during the summertime, even a dry one like this year. These storms can lead to flooded trails, difficult stream-crossings and possibly even assemblies of paired animals. Most importantly, they can result in a hiking rain-delay.

If the storms are heavy enough and last for hours, rain delays can pose quite the conundrum for those trapped in a tent, lean-to or other shelter. How does one spend their time when in a confined place for a considerable length of time, while waiting out a wet day? » Continue Reading.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Lost Brook Dispatches: Life in the Wild

I noticed that guide and outdoor writer Joe Hackett had a column last week in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise asking whether there is any true wilderness in the Adirondacks. This is a question – entailing in turn the question of what we mean by wilderness – which I took up in several Dispatches some months ago.  I’ll not return to those arguments now except to restate that yes, I think there is unquestionably true wilderness in the park.  I know because I have lived there.

I am just settling into the experience of being on Lost Brook Tract with Amy for much of July, just feeling ready to write about it.  It has taken me some days: this was a deeply moving time in my life.  If there has been one over-arching theme in my reflections it has been that our stay there did not in any way feel like a vacation – indeed we did not intend it as a vacation.  We intended to just live there.  And so we did.  It could have been three weeks or three years for all I felt.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Dan Crane: Evolution of a Bushwhacking Fool

Bushwhacking, or off-trail hiking, requires many skills, acquired over many years. Few people begin their backcountry career as a bushwhacker, i.e. bushwhackers are not born, they evolve.

Typically, one commences as a mere hiker, transitions to a backpacker as the desire to travel farther afield gains hold, and, if the skills, temperament and desire form the correct concoction, finally becomes a bushwhacker. At least, that is how I got started. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Gear: Homemade Backcountry Alcohol Stove

Being handy is just not my thing. I cannot fix my car, beyond changing a tire or checking the oil. Building things out of wood or metal is as easy for me as is going to Mars. Furthermore, in any incident where pulling a MacGyver is required, I am lucky if I can manage a MacGruber.

Certainly, there is no way I could ever hope to build my own outdoor gear. Yet, I managed to build my a backpacking stove a few year ago. And, it turned out to be the best and most lightweight stove I ever used in the backcountry. Moreover, it has never exploded, or engulfed anything into flames unintentionally – yet.
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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Cabin Life: The Best Meal Ever, And The Worst

A cast-iron pan, a quart pot and a tea kettle.  It’s hard to believe that I spent six months pretty much just using those three utensils to make all of my meals.  And it’s not that I had been eating out a lot or eating unhealthy meals, but with only a little propane stove to cook on, I got by with the bare minimum of dishes.  Plus it was really hard to wash dishes with no running water.

Another writer told me to use spray bottles to do the dishes.  Put warm, soapy water in one and clean in the other to save on water, since I was filling a five-gallon jug every couple of days and hauling it to the cabin.  It was a great idea and definitely saved on water, but I found that using the spray bottle to rinse was just not effective.  The wash bottle was great, but I still just ran the spigot on the jug to rinse. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dan Crane: Smarter (and Larger) than the Average Bear

My two previous Adirondack Almanack articles about black bears combined with Pete Nelson’s last Lost Brook Dispatch about a black bear named Tractor, started me thinking about my own harrowing bear experiences in the Adirondacks.

Unfortunately, none of my encounters was as exciting as being yanked out of an outhouse, or reminiscent of the black knight scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Nevertheless, one such encounter with a monster of a bear is interesting enough worth sharing. Given the bear’s large size and craftiness, it might even be the legendary Tractor. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (June 21)

This weekly Adirondack conditions report is issued on Thursday afternoons, year round.

Listen for the weekly Adirondack Outdoor Recreation Report Friday mornings on WNBZ (AM 920 & 1240, FM 105 & 102.1), WSLP (93.3) and the stations of North Country Public Radio.

The Adirondack Almanack also publishes weekly a Adirondack Hunting and Fishing Report.

SPECIAL NOTICES FOR THIS WEEKEND » Continue Reading.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Coleman Collectors to Light-Up Lake George

It’s probably safe to say most everyone who has ventured into Adirondack woods or waters in the last 50 years has at some time used a Coleman product. The company once sold Skiroule snowmobiles, Hobie Cat sailboats, and even its own pop-up trailers –  but most recreationists are familiar with some of the smaller Coleman products: coolers, canoes and other small boats, sleeping bags, tents, backpacks, and the ubiquitous camp stoves and Coleman lanterns.

The company was  founded in 1900 by William Coffin Coleman, known as  “W. C.”, and a  former school principal working as a typewriter salesman who founded the company while earning money for law school.  Coleman’s obsession with a lantern that burned a bright white light is matched by legions of Coleman collectors, who pour over the company’s American made designs (Coleman was born in Columbia County, NY and moved to the mid-west) and trade stories and knowledge. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Lost Brook Dispatches: Cooking in the Back Country

For hard core backpackers pack weight is a serious game, especially in challenging and endurance-taxing terrain like the Adirondacks.  Every pound you take on the trail is additional effort.  Every extra handful of ounces somehow magnifies the inevitable crushing drain on personal will that, after an extended day with miles yet to go, can cause you to feel as Jacob Marley must have, shambling on through eternity.

For some, saving weight elevates to a competitive and expensive sport, with ultra-light this and featherweight that.  Lemme tell you, that gear costs.   For the most extreme disciples of light-weight backpacking the quest becomes quasi-religious (and I can arguably drop the “quasi” part).   I’ve known people to cut down pencils to save a tenth of an ounce.

We all join the faithful at one time or another: who among we Adirondack hikers has not at least once felt a surge of joy and self-congratulatory satisfaction all out of keeping with the situation when we drained our last water, feeling and hearing our bottles jiggling around oh-so empty, oh-so mercifully airy?  “Ha!  I’m light now, thank God,” we say to ourselves. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Dan Crane: Black Bears Attack, Or Do They?

My recent article here at the Adirondack Almanack about a man attacked on the toilet by a black bear appeared to elicit several comments suggesting that carrying firearms is a viable protective measure for possible bear attacks in the Adirondacks. It was never my intention to insinuate this; I just thought it was an amusing backcountry-related story.

Before I find myself liable for any incidents involving bears and firearms, it may be instructive to examine black bear behavior and the possibility of suffering from a fatal attack in the Adirondacks. I certainly do not want to be responsible for the backcountry becoming a new “wild west,” with everyone packing heat, and eager to use it at a moment’s notice.
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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Dan Crane: Bear Attacks Man in Outhouse

Is nothing sacred? It is getting as if you cannot even take a dump in the woods in peace anymore.

A recent bear attack in Canada may have literally scared the living crap out of a man, in a story that should give every backcountry enthusiast pause before squatting in the woods again. Beware; reading further may just ruin one of nature’s most pleasurable experiences in the outdoors for evermore.

Recently, a Canadian man was attacked by a black bear, while minding his own business in an outhouse in central Canada. The bear pulled him right off the crapper by his pants, which were, naturally, down around his ankles. The man apparently fought back with nothing but his will to live, and some extra toilet paper. Luckily, his companion heard all the yelling and shot the bear before it had a chance to do any serious damage. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Dan Crane: Constructive Backcountry Convalescence

Hiking injuries happen from time to time.  That is one of the many risks of journeying into the Adirondack backcountry while carrying a heavy, bulging backpack.  The only thing worse than a hiking injury, is an unexpected and unrelated injury preventing one from the opportunity of getting a hiking injury.  Despite the source of the injury, the recovery period can be very difficult.

How should an outdoor enthusiast spend their convalescence?

Although it is easy to descend into an abyss of negative feelings, avoid this at all costs.  Instead of closing the window blinds, watching hours of Game of Thrones episodes, and listening to psychedelic Pink Floyd music, make the most of this down time and do something positive. Like preparing for future adventures, or at the very least, revisiting previous trips in an attempt to lift one’s spirits.
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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Dan Crane: Blisters Suck

Hikers’ sweaty feet are one of my favorite things.  Especially, when their hiking boots do not fit correctly or are not properly broken in.  Their soft, damp skin rubs against the sides of unyielding boots, giving birth to my nascent self.   Layers of skin separate, and the space between these layers fills with liquid.   This is when I take control.

I am a blister.  And I want nothing more than to ruin your outdoor experience.

Let’s face it, blisters suck.  There is just no getting around this fact.  Anyone who has ever suffered through a long hike with one or more on their heel or toe knows this all too well.  Once they begin to form there is almost nothing that can be done to reverse the process, short of several weeks of rest and an absolute absence of rubbing.  These conditions are nearly impossible to be had in the middle of the Adirondack backcountry, days from the nearest trailhead.
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