Essential Tarp Camping

Words & Photos by Cam Honan

The essence of going lighter in the woods is not so much about gear, as it is about the adoption of a simpler, less cluttered approach to one’s time backpacking.

Insofar as this philosophy relates to shelters, tarps fit the bill both tangibly and intangibly.

In the following article I’ll examine the benefits of tarp camping, as well as share some tips and techniques to minimize the perceived negatives. I’ll end the piece with an overview of environments in which the hiker is better off leaving the tarp at home, and going with a tent.

Flat Tarp & Southwest 2400 pack | Sangre de Cristo mountains, CO, 2016.
Flat Tarp & 2400 Southwest pack | Sangre de Cristo mountains, CO, 2016.

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Bikepacking & Packrafting the Lost Coast of Alaska: Part 2

An Alaskan coastal traverse between Cordova and Icy Bay, Alaska using fatbikes, packrafts, and inspiration from those whom came before.

Words & Photos by Mike Curiak

Day Four:

(Continued from Part 1)

Waking to the sound of rain wasn’t what I’d dreamed about.  Although honestly, at first, I wasn’t sure that was even what it was.  The optimist in my drybag hoped that it was Doom, just outside, slinging handfuls of sand at our tent while taking a selfie and mouthing ‘perf!’ at the camera.  Once I scraped the crusted sand from my eyes and focused, I could see a million+ droplets beaded up on the outer skin of our ‘mid, a few hundred of them sliding earthward.  Going to be a wet one.

The Lost Coast: Day 4

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Gates of the Arctic Traverse

19 days and 400 Miles thru Alaska’s Brooks Range.

Words, Photos and Video by Luc Mehl


The Brooks Range has always intimidated me as a logistic challenge: expensive, remote, cold in the winter and buggy in the summer. But it is the largest swath of Alaska I haven’t seen, and with a lot of planning, we were able to do a long and remote trip within my budget. We had to have the route, logistics, and pace, dialed-in to pull off this ambitious trip. Our route evolved to be: fly to Anaktuvuk, float southwest on the John River, hike west to the Alatna River, float southeast on the Alatna to access the Arrigetch, cross the Arrigetch, float northwest on the Noatak River, hike southwest to the Ambler River, and float west to Ambler. 400 miles in 19 days.

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HIKE YOUR OWN HIKE: Q&A WITH PHILIP WERNER

Philip Werner never wanted to be a thru hiker. While he respects thru hikers and their achievement(s), he prefers to hike his own hike, which, to him, means hiking and backpacking both on and off-trail on journeys of his own design. People often equate hiking and backpacking with thru hiking. However, the vast majority of hikers and backpackers don’t hike on National Scenic Trails. Werner estimates there are probably 10,000 or more non-thru hikers for every Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail thru hiker. We recently chatted with this influential hiking blogger and owner of SectionHiker.com about what “hike your own hike” means to him.

Hiking new routes, to new places and in new ways. My favorite mountain is the mountain I have yet to climb. To find new routes, I look at maps a lot and work off trail lists and peak lists. For off-trail routes, I mainly use caltopo.com to plan my bushwhacks and a map and compass to hike the routes. I really enjoy planning unique trips to places I want to visit. I can’t think of a time where I’ve used someone else’s route on a trip on purpose.

What are some of the “new ways” you have hiked over the years?
Winter backpacking, mountaineering, bushwhacking, peak bagging, waterfall climbing, day hiking and nature viewing. There are lots of styles of hiking and combinations of these styles.

Plus, I’m constantly learning new backcountry skills and folding them into my adventures, adding endless new facets to my experiences. I’ve incorporated backcountry (cross-country) skiing, Tenkara fly fishing and
 traditional Flycasting with a reel into my adventures lately. This summer, for example, I’m doing a series of backpacking trips to remote alpine ponds in New Hampshire and Maine to fly fish from a packraft. That’s just one example of a trip that includes numerous activities—backpacking, fly fishing and packrafting. And this coming winter I plan to combine winter backpacking and backcountry skiing on some trips into the Pemigewasset Wilderness.

Read the rest of the article here.

Escalante River, Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument

Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument
Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument.

Photo & text by Alan Dixon

The vast Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument is arguably best true wilderness in the lower 48. The beauty of the desert canyons and the mesas in the Monument is breathtaking—challenging the the best the planet has to offer. It is the perfect setting for a bona fide adventure filled with jaw dropping beauty.
 
The Escalante was the last river of its size to be discovered in the lower 48 states and the area was the last to be mapped in the lower 48. In the vast expanse below Highway 12 there are no trails (actually there is only one trail in the entire park). Many of the side canyons are so remote and inaccessible that only a few people every 10 years reaches them, if ever. Only a few canyons see regular use.
 
A light tarp is usually all you need in the desert. Note: While I could have camped higher up on the canyon wall on a slickrock shelf with better views… I discreetly camped out of sight, away from the trail and in the cottonwood trees as a favor to others sharing the canyon with me. It is also a warmer and more protected location than exposed on the slickrock. And this is far from a bad view!
Alan Dixon runs the popular website, AdventureAlan.com. He regularly uses our 3400 Southwest Pack. Stay tuned for Dixon’s future blog posts, including the second in our series of, “Why You Won’t Freeze or Starve Going Ultralight” blog posts, in which he discusses good camping skills, utilizing gear that’s appropriate for the conditions, and being prepared in terms of weather and calories needed. “I’ll wager that with my 5-6 pounds of ultralight gear I’m more comfortable, sleep better, and eat as well or better than most campers carrying 20 to 30 pounds of conventional/heavier backpacking gear,” Dixon says.

Thru Hike Expedition Gear Planning & Food Prep

Stripped Down Grand Canyon Gear List, Food & Cache Prep For Major Thru Hikes, By Mike St. Pierre

Expedition Gear Planning & Food Prep for major thru hikes.

In the first post of this series, I discussed the logistical planning for serious thru hikes and backpacking trips, including gathering beta on and visualizing your route. Once you know where you’re going and how long you’ll be on your trip, you can determine the gear and food you need, plus plan out the caches you’ll have to prepare. For people doing the Appalachian Trail or Continental Divide Trail, your “caches” are your resupplies; for people hiking below the rim of the Grand Canyon, it’s a bit more involved.

Gear List:

Gear is the critical tool that can make the difference between a fantastic experience and a miserable experience, or a successful trip and an unsuccessful trip. On the other hand, the more skill you have the less gear you need. And, as we discussed in Part I, the more information you have the better prepared you’ll be. This extends to your gear. Know where you going and what you’re doing, and you’ll be able to choose exactly the right gear for the conditions (and leave behind what you don’t need). For example, if I’m going for an overnight trip in the fall and the weather is clear, there won’t likely be bugs. So I might not need to bring a shelter, or I might take something very minimalist like a 6′ by 8′ Flat Tarp. On the other hand, knowing that the temperatures are going to range wildly on my Grand Canyon thru hike means I have to have a puffy jacket, clothes and sleeping system that can handle anything from 15- to 90-degree weather.

Grand Canyon

Subsequently, I carefully planned our gear list to address the climate, time of year and all the different types of terrain we would cover. I made an excel spreadsheet and listed out everything I thought I would need. I then calculated the weights of everything and the calories per day I would need to carry that weight (and to stay warm and energized for the long miles we were hiking). I knew I needed to carry eight to ten days of food to get to the next cache, plus at least 12lbs. of backpacking gear, my camera, plus 6lbs. of technical gear that Clay and I would share. That and the food would put us each at 30lbs. Throw the four to six liters of water required to carry on top of that, and our packs fluctuated between 25 and 50lbs.

The next thing I did was shake down my own list. Read the rest of the post and check out photos.

It’s the 30th Annual Appalachian Trail Days!

Kendra "Lays" Jackson and Tyson "Tenderfoot" Perkins hiking back down south into Appalachian Trail Days.
Kendra “Lays” Jackson and Tyson “Tenderfoot” Perkins hiking back down south into Appalachian Trail Days.

We’re here in Damascus, Virginia for the 30th Annual Trail Days 2016! Stop by our booth to say hi & enter our raffles.

Schedule of Hyperlite Mountain Gear booth events:

  • Thursday-Saturday, 5/12-5/14, All Day: Our CEO and ultralight thru hike expert Mike St. Pierre will be doing Shake Downs, first come, first served.
  • Friday, 5/13, 11a.m.: Join Mike St. Pierre and Ambassador Ashley Hill for a “Morning Ultralight Q&A.” Bring your questions, concerns and ideas.
  • Friday, 5/13, 4p.m.: Raffle. Enter your name into our free raffle for a chance to win our a Windrider or Southwest Pack, Tarps, Stuff Sacks, Stuff Pillows, plus tons of Merch.
  • Saturday, 5/14, 11a.m.: Join Mike St. Pierre and Ambassador Ashley Hill for a “Morning Ultralight Q&A.” Bring your questions, concerns and ideas.
  • Saturday, 5/14, 4p.m.: Raffle & Push Up Contest. Enter your name into our free raffle for a chance to win our a Windrider or Southwest Pack, Tarps, Stuff Sacks, Stuff Pillows, plus tons of Merch.

Check out our Facebook album from Trail Days 2015.

Trail Days

Lightweight Appalachian Trail Gear: “Tenderfoot” Drops 9oz

It’s never too late to change your gear. Ambassador “Tenderfoot” alters his lightweight Appalachian Trail gear kit one month in.

“Aches & Pains? I thought it was just walking on the AT?!”

Photos & text by Tyson “Tenderfoot” Perkins

AT 2016
Lays at the summit of Max Patch Mountain outside of Hot Springs, NC.

Over 100 miles in, and I already feel like I have 100 years worth of stories. We’ve met more than 100 people, and we have over 100 aches and pains. The trail has taught me more in the last 10 days than I’ve learned in all my research of it over the last couple years. Sure you can figure out who the first person to hike it was, or how many steps it takes to the end. However, it’s almost impossible to learn something like this so in depth without actually being there and living it. A couple days ago when we took our zero day (on my 24th birthday), I answered a few questions for my co-workers at Hyperlite Mountain Gear about my lightweight Appalachian Trail gear kit, what I’ve changed, added and dropped. Here goes… Read More

Ultralight Gear for Appalachian Trail Hikers: 2-Person Planning & Prep

Exactly what you need & nothing more: ultralight gear for Appalachian Trail thru hikers

Ultralight gear for the Appalachian Trail. Everything Tenderfoot is bringing.

 

Text & illustrations by Tyson Perkins

Early summer 2014, my girlfriend, Kendra Ultralight gear for Appalachian Trail thru hikes.Jackson, and I took on our second 5000-footer together—Mount Katahdin. Soon after waking up the day of our ascent we met a 20-something New York City-based mountain guide, Peter. A veteran thru-hiker, he had a wealth of knowledge about backcountry travel and the Appalachian Trail. He taught us about shelters that set up with trekking poles instead of your common tent poles, trail names, “Trail Magic,” “Zero Days,” “Nero Days,” “Hiker Hobble” and cleaning yourself with baby wipes. We immediately got overly enamored and stoked on this magically ridiculous world and decided to hike the “AT.” Fast travel to the summer of 2015, and Kendra and I began taking on adventures such as the Mahoosuc Range between New Hampshire and Maine in a weekend and returning to work on Monday.

On our first forays into the wilderness, we took awkward thrift store backpacks and a beaten-down double sleeping bag. We cooked dinner on a heavy propane stove right near our Walmart dome tent. Needless to say we had a ton of fun using terrible gear, but knew there had to be better options out there. Through my job as a tent maker at Hyperlite Mountain Gear, I gleaned a ton of ultralight knowledge from the owner, Mike St. Pierre. The more I learned, the easier our trips became. And, more importantly, we enjoyed our backcountry adventures even more. And now’s the time. We’re taking all that we have learned since 2014 and heading out for our Appalachian Trail thru hike. In this blog post I detail our planning, preparation and gear.

Planning:

We really enjoyed planning the logistics of this trip, regularly geeking out over Excel spread sheets and line art graphs (Kendra developed the one published to the right) and the ultralight Appalachian Trail Gear we planned to take. We’ve meticulously categorized and sorted all our mail drop supplies along the AT, and we’ve mapped out our post office stops and planned out how we will meet up with Kendra’s parents in Shenandoah National Park. Everyone needs to take breaks, and we have come up with a plan to take some without compromising our March 4th to July 22nd timeline. If we stick to the plan, we’ll hike 16 miles a day on average. We’ve developed a “bank” system. Essentially, any miles we do over the 16-mile average we add to the bank, and once we have a days worth of miles in it, we can take a full day off. Also, we built in two full Zero Days. And, we planned our food and gear very carefully…

Shakedown:

Home-made dehydrated meals or Mountain House? Nalgene® or a SmartWater bottle? Eucalyptus or almond soap?!?! There are so many choices, some of which are easy to make, and some that seem like you are perpetually leaving something behind. Will I need a footprint for my shelter? Will down be a superior sleeping bag choice? These are things that we will not find out until we really take them out and put them to the test. Gear is really fun. Planning what to take was actually my favorite part of this whole endeavor.

Here is a quick breakdown of our ultralight gear for Appalachian Trail thru hikes: Check out the full list.

The Grandest Walk: A 700-Mile Thru Hike Below the Rim

Chris Atwood eyes a fast moving storm from the moonscape near Fishtail Mesa. Photo: Rich Rudow
Chris Atwood eyes a fast moving storm from the moonscape near Fishtail Mesa.

Stories and photos by Rich Rudow

How 2012 Outside Mag “Adventurer of the Year,” Rich Rudow, achieved one of his greatest objectives–a rarely done thru hike of the full length of the Grand Canyon.

More than four thousand people have summited Mt. Everest. Two hundred and fifty people have walked 7,900 miles to complete the triple crown of hiking (walking the PCT, CDT and AT). Twenty-four astronauts left the Earth’s orbit for the moon. But only 12 people have ever walked the length of Grand Canyon in one continuous push. Why? There are no towns for resupply, no base camps for logistics support, and in fact, no trails for the vast majority of the 700 miles. Traversing Grand Canyon is like walking a complex three-dimensional maze with delicate routes that include hundreds of thousands of vertical feet of scrambling and climbing up to low class five terrain. There isn’t a guidebook, and beta is sparse. To most people, this thru hike seems impossible. Fortunately, Dave Nally and Chris Atwood, my hiking partners on this journey, weren’t like most people. They had thousands of Grand Canyon off-trail miles under their belts too, and most importantly, we had hiked together many times on difficult Grand Canyon expeditions. I could count on their judgment, strength and fortitude.

But, I wondered, “Could I do it?” Would my 50-year-old body hold up to the rigors of a thru hike on some of the most difficult terrain on the planet for 57 continuous days? I made sure to cover my bases. We spent a year planning the expedition. We defined a highly detailed day-by-day route, identifying water sources and bailout options. We placed eight caches throughout the length of the Grand to resupply along the way. They contained food, extra approach shoes and hiking poles, first aid supplies, clothes for the changing seasons, a warmer sleeping bag for late Fall, maps for each leg of the route, technical climbing gear, and of course, tequila, coffee and peanut M&M’s. Selecting the right gear was paramount for success. A pack failure would end the trip. A shelter failure could be life threatening. Read on… the Expedition Begins!

Committed to America’s Big Trails

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Partners with the Pacific Crest Trail Association & the Continental Divide Trail Coalition

Thru hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.
Thru hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Photo courtesy of @ilubbgatos

This February, we partnered with the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) and the Continental Divide Trail Coalition (CDTC), key organizations that support two of the “Big Three” thru hiking/backpacking trails. Why? Because we are committed to getting you—the passionate outdoor adventurer—into the mountains and onto the trails where you can achieve your most optimal self. Our goal with these partnerships is to ensure these iconic and inspirational trails are preserved, protected and enjoyed by all types of hikers for decades to come.

PCTA-logoWith 11,000+ members and donors, the PCTA empowers more than 1800 volunteers to work 96,500 hours on hundreds of projects. A major partner of the US Forest Service, this nonprofit advocates for hikers, thru hikers and backpackers, responds to and manages wildfires and other closures, responds to threats on the trail (logging, illegal trespass and development proposals), and acquires land and easements to further enhance the trail. Discover the trail.

updated_CDTCThough smaller and newer, the CDTC fills an important niche, empowering those who love the Continental Divide Trail through community engagement, stewardship and trail outreach and education. With a goal to build strong community of volunteers, enthusiasts and supporters who want to see the CDT completed and protected, they’ve constructed 9.3 miles of new trail and mobilized 194 volunteers to work nearly 15,000 hours. Join the CDTC.

Together, these two organizations successfully mobilize tens of thousands of donors, members and volunteers to protect and preserve two of America’s most iconic trail systems. But creating better, strong trail systems requires teamwork, partnerships and collaboration. We hope that by joining their communities that we can help raise awareness of the important work they do.

Mike-image-and-sig-together-for-blog

 

 

 

SectionHiker.com Gives Southwest Pack Gear Of The Year Award

Hiking at Sawyer Mountain, Cascades. Photo: Bryan Carroll
Hiking at Sawyer Mountain with a 150D Black Southwest Pack, Cascades. Photo: Bryan Carroll

We’re excited to report that SectionHiker.com’s Philip Werner announced that the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest Pack won his annual “Gear Of The Year” Award today. Every year Werner recognizes the piece of gear that had the biggest impact on his hiking and backpacking experience. Werner highlighted the pack’s streamlined design, its “toughness” and water resistance as reasons it beat out the competition. We’re still in the early adoption consumer phase of our technology and ultralight philosophies; so we’re thrilled to be recognized by the thought-leaders and influencers in the industry. —Mike St. Pierre, CEO Click here to read more!

Pacific Northwest Trail Challenges: Mosquitos, Staying Dry, Navigation & More

Ashley Hill on the Pacific Northwest Trail.
Ashley Hill on the remote, widely unknown Pacific Northwest Trail.

We go out into the wilderness to remove ourselves from modern society and experience the beauty of nature in its untouched, finest self. I was drawn to the Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT) for that very reason; resources weren’t readily available, and it is still widely unknown in the hiking community. In fact, I met many rangers overseeing its terrain who hadn’t heard of its existence.

#1 Main Challenge: Mosquitos

There were three main challenges I experienced on the trail: mosquitos, keeping dry and navigation… especially when it came to my new proud vocabulary word “bushwhacking.” Let’s start with the mosquitos. They were so horrible at one time that I considered quitting my hike. You can’t do anything about the bugs… I carried three types of repellent, (100% DEET, aerosol spray, which I highly condone and eucalyptus lemon oil). Wait it out, and you’ll be fine. The mosquito issue only lasted about three weeks and will depend on each year’s weather conditions. Any thru-hiker can handle it, but it’s imperative to keep your moral high. Become one with the bugs! (Read more about how she dealt with bugs on her blog).

#2 Main Challenge: Staying Dry

Now, keeping dry is another story. Rain and river fords destroyed my feet. Even in record high weather temperatures, I still got soggy. I handled this struggle by purchasing improved rain gear, making mandatory stops on trail to dry my shoes and socks when the sun poked through and I ALWAYS kept my sleeping gear in a dry bag. If the rain stops at 8:45a.m., I’d be making hot cocoa on trail! Because the PNT is largely hiked in the summer months, there is more discomfort than danger regarding this issue. Hypothermia can occur in above freezing temperatures, so please remember this and use extreme caution. Read the rest of her article here!

First Aid Lite: Ultralight Backcountry First Aid Kit

Bryan Carroll checking out 1000 Acre Meadows, an unknown area to most people, where a first aid kit would be necessary. It's roughly 23 miles to get there, you have to climb two passes, and then you'll find it tucked behind a few peaks.
Bryan Carroll checking out the remote 1000 Acre Meadows, where carrying a first aid kit would be highly advised. It’s roughly 23 miles to get there, you have to climb two passes, and then you’ll find it tucked behind a few peaks.

Photo & text courtesy of Andy Dappen of www. WenatcheeOutdoors.org, fact checked by Dr. Mark Shipman.

When trying to rid your pack of unnecessary pounds, the normal first-aid kit is worth putting under the microscope. With some scrutiny it’s actually pretty easy to shed nearly a pound of first-aid weight and a liter of first-aid bulk from your kit. Being rid of little-used items is a calculated risk–there may be rare occasions when one or two items you want may be missing if you follow the advice below. On the other hand dramatically lightning up your pack in all areas so that your total load is 20 pounds for an overnight trip versus 35 pounds will help you in many ways. You’ll not only travel farther and faster, you’ll travel this distance with less likelihood of injury because your balance will be better and you will be less fatigued and hence less likely to make a careless misstep. So while the recommends below may leave you slightly less prepared for emergencies, they’ll significantly reduce the odds of incurring injury. Welcome to yet another of life’s many gray zones.

The One Tape
The one item I now always carry for injuries, whether I’m out for a trail run, a long rock climb or a several hour day hike, is a partial roll (amounting to five or six feet) of Leukotape  P. This tape, made by BSN Medical,  is the best thing going for dealing with blisters (the adhesive is amazing), small cuts (make band-aids from strips of tape with a little toilet paper added where you want gauze) or larger cuts (cover the wound with TP or cloth and secure this firmly in place with wraps of tape). Read the rest of the article here.

Below The Rim: Extreme Grand Canyon Thru Hike

Giant life-saving water pockets on Pocket Point. Photo by Rich Rudow
A giant life-saving water pockets on Pocket Point. Photo by Rich Rudow

One of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon is enormous. Most people look over the rim convinced they’ve seen it all with a long gaze. The reality is much different; they’re looking at a fraction of a percent. Even the few thousand people who raft the Grand or backpack its trails have only just barely scratched its sandy, desert surface. But not so Rich Rudow. A 2012 Outside Mag “Adventurer of the Year” and a Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador, Rudow is the foremost explorer of slot canyons in the Park; he’s descended more than 160, including over 100 likely first descents. His latest adventure is an entirely self-supported, 56-day thru hike down river, which he is doing with Dave Nally and Chris Atwood.

“Roughly 3,500 people have climbed Mt. Everest; 250 people have done the triple crown, but fewer than a dozen people have thru hiked the Grand Canyon all the way through in this way,” Rudow explains. “The terrain is just too difficult.” According to Rudow, an absence of trails complicates navigation, especially on the north side of river. While the Colorado river runs 277 miles through Grand Canyon, the hiking routes are between 500- and 700-miles long depending on the route chosen. Rudow’s route will require regular class 3 to 5 scrambling to transition up and down thousands of vertical feet of the different cliff bands. Read the rest of the article!

Food Prep & Recipes for Ultralight Thru Hike Adventures

Stripped Down Ultralight Recipes, By Mike St. Pierre

I live for adventure. I love owning and operating a growing ultralight outdoor gear company (even the stress and chaos!) But I thrive in the middle of nowhere. The backcountry is where I perfect our packs and shelters, come up with new product ideas and continue to hone my lightweight/minimalism skills. This fall I’m heading into the Grand Canyon for 16 days to accompany the foremost expert on that natural wonder of the world, Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador Rich Rudow. Rich is thru hiking about 700 miles down river and then back up the other side, all below the rim of the canyon and all off trail. The route is roughly mapped out, but the terrain will dictate the path; some days we’ll be walking (or bushwhacking) by the river and other days we’ll be scrambling 4th– and low 5th-class terrain through the seven layers of rock that make up the cliffs of the canyon; we may hike up to 6000 feet on any given day, gaining 3000 to 4000 feet in elevation. In this Series of blog posts I’ll be focusing on what it takes to prep for a major expedition like this. This first post is about ultralight food preparations for a multi-day thru hike in the backcountry. Plus, I’ve included some of my recipes.

Table2

Read the rest of the article & get some backcountry recipes, including our favorite,

Motivated By The Unknown: A Chat With Adventurer Mike Curiak

Mike Curiak in Alaska.
“Experience is largely undervalued relative to ability. As my ability fades or gets rustier, I’m happy to be traveling with experienced people!” –Mike Curiak

Ambassador Mike Curiak is an avid multi-sport adventurer. He just embarked on a packraft adventure with Roman Dial and Brad Meiklejohn, which you can read about here

“Almost everything cool I did was in some past life,” says itinerant adventurer Mike Curiak. While it may be true Curiak no longer competes (and regularly wins) super crazy 100-, 200- and even 350-mile bike races, as he did in the 90s, he is no slacker. In fact, he just returned from hiking and packrafting a completely remote river basin in Alaska with expert packrafters Roman Dial and Brad Meiklejohn. Read Dial’s report of the trip.

“The satellite imagery of this place was so pixelated that we couldn’t really see much,” he says of the info he found while researching the area. “On a topo I could see there were mountains and a river that we planned to float out on; but all maps were useless.” Curiak and the team knew roughly what the elevation was going to be, where they’d hit the river, and where it finished at sea level, and so they were able to gauge the gradient; the river dropped substantially. They also knew the river was glacier fed, and that when temps warmed up in the afternoon it would likely be raging. But would it be raging like the Grand Canyon or something else?

“When you come up against this sort of big blank spot, it tests you as a person and as a traveler to improvise,” he says. “Where I go it’s not about what you bring, but about what your experience is and how you deal with what you come across.” Read the rest of the article.

Ashley Hill on Thru Hiking the Pacific Northwest Trail

Ashley Hill on the Pacific Northwest Trail with her Southwest Pack.
Ashley Hill on the Pacific Northwest Trail with her Southwest Pack.

Meet Ashley Hill, a Hyperlite Mountain Gear Trail Ambassador. Born and raised in San Jose, Calif., she has traveled around the world, worked for both the United Nations and Amnesty International and earned BA in Peace and Conflict studies. At a young age, she decided to go abroad, and so bought a one-way ticket to South America, where she visited Colombia, lived with a shaman in the Amazon and traveled the Caribbean Coast. But, in 2012, her life changed when she learned her mother’s cancer diagnosis had taken a turn for the worse. She packed up and went home. But the wanderlust returned after her mother passed away, and despite having very little outdoor experience, she decided to do a thru hike. Hill figured walking in the wilderness would help her both grieve and grow. So she set out to hike the Pacific Crest Trail Southbound from Canada to Mexico on July 12, 2014. “It was the best decision of my life,” Hill says. “After hitting the Mexican border, I knew I would be a hiker for the rest of my life.” Hill is currently hiking the Pacific Northwest Trail. She recently answered a few questions for us on a zero day. Read our Q&A with Ashley Hill!

Gone Light, Part IV: Bring Your Brain & Other Thru-Hiking Tips

Annie MacWilliams on the Pacific Crest Trail.
Annie MacWilliams on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Stripped Down With Guest Blogger Annie MacWilliams. This is the last in Annie’s blog series of thru-hiking tips & tricks for women.

Bring Your Brain: Really, most backpacking and thru hiking gear is gender neutral–tents, sleeping pads, cook gear, etc. But with each other these items, it’s important that you choose the right gear for you. Your brain is the best piece of gear you can bring, so know everything about your gear before you head out. Learn how to pitch your tent in different ways, in the worst conditions you can practice in. Anyone can pitch a tent in their grassy lawn on a sunny day, but a rocky hillside in sideways freezing rain? I failed that test on the Pacific Crest Trail and ended up getting a new tent shipped to me while on the trail. I needed my gear to work in the worst conditions, and user failure resulted in a very cold and wet night. Can you patch a leaky air mattress? Fix a zipper? Tweak a broken stove? If not, learn how. Read the rest of Annie’s final post!

Chris Brinlee’s “Brutal” Adventure on The Sierra High Route

Chris Brinlee Jr on the "brutal" Sierra High Route
Chris Brinlee Jr on the “brutal” Sierra High Route

Writer, photographer and adventurer Chris Brinlee recently returned from hiking/climbing the Sierra High Route with Gilberto Gil and Olivia Aguilar. The team used our packs, the Echo II Shelter System and the UltaMid, plus a bunch of stuff sacks. The route, Brinlee says, stretches 200 miles through the Sierra Nevada, and most of it is off-trail. It took them two weeks, and they had to navigate dangerous, unmarked terrain. Of the trip, Brinless says: “Brutal. That’s how I’d describe my experience on the Sierra High Route. Each day was a constant physical and mental barrage. We’d fight as hard as we could to stay on track — but often lagged one pass behind schedule each night; only to make up the time, distance, and elevation early the next morning.” Read his article and check out his stunning photos on Indefinitely Wild.

Gilberto Gil standing in front of his Echo II Shelter System, photo by Chris Brinlee
Gilberto Gil standing in front of his Echo II Shelter System, photo by Chris Brinlee
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