S’more Good Hiking Posts – The Sweetest Reads of the Week #1

It’s time for a campfire, some good company and S’mores – S’more Good Hiking Posts, that is. Here’s a collection of some of the sweetest reads I’ve found around the web this week.

You’re So Cheesy!

Anyone else crave cheese when you’re out on the trail? If you’re going for a day hike, it’s generally not a problem. BUT what about long hikes and backpacking trips? What’s the best cheese to take with you? Melissa over at Chasqui Mom has some ideas for you.

The Toughest Backpacking Cheese
“I’m a burger and fries kind of girl.  I crave healthy fats and bad fats but after hiking for long periods of time or in particular backpacking trips, I want meats and cheese at the end of the day.  I’ve managed to address my meat craving with Trader Joe’s Chianti Red Wine Artisan Salami, which is absolutely delicious alone or in a dish.” Read more…

Déjà vu…Well, Sort Of

I came across this next sweet read by Steven Berei from Lake Tahoe All Access. It didn’t take me long to recognize this place and remember how much I loved this spot. It’s fun seeing someone else’s experience of one of your favorite places in the world.

It’s a very short hike with spectacular views!
“If you live in or have been to Tahoe, you may have called this one.  Yup, it’s Cave Rock!  Cave Rock was created over 3 million years ago, and is located on the southeastern shore of Lake Tahoe.  You can see the rock structure from almost any point on the lake.  It’s still considered sacred to…” Read more…

Epiphany

You never know where – or when – that “ah ha” light bulb is going to turn on. Dave from WildernessDave.com got an epiphany that challenged his idea of adventure from, of all places, a bored hipster. Who knew, right?

Bored Hipster Seeks…Adventure!
“It’s interesting the conversations you overhear, out of context, that resonate with you.  It happened for me at camp this weekend in Grand Canyon at the Desert View Campground.” Read more…

Manhandling Those Meddlesome Mossies

Mosquitoes taking a bite out of your outdoor adventures? Don’t lose another drop of blood. Andrew  Skurka’s got you covered…literally.

My clothing system for backpacking in peak mosquito season
“Were it not for some scheduling constraints, I would have preferred to schedule these trips at another time of year since they coincided precisely with the region’s peak bug season, which historically happens around the summer solstice, June 21.” Read more…

“Staggeringly Beautiful Landscape”

Well, after seeing the video that accompanies this article from Lets Be Wild, I’d say that’s an understatement. You owe it to yourself to check out this amazing story about the adventures of a couple of talented film-makers.

64 Days of Learning
“For 64 days, film-maker Sim Warren and Mia Xerri headed to North America for two months of exploration in Canada and America’s best loved and most beautiful national parks, blogging about their trip as they went.” Read more…

That’s it for this week. Thanks for visiting.

See ya’ on the trail,
Tastelikchickn

You Might Be Hiker Trash If…

Trash collected along a hiking trail.

Yes, but…this isn’t the hiker trash we’re talking about today.

Now, wait! Before you have a hissy fit over the possibility of being called “Hiker Trash,” you first have to understand, it’s really a term of endearment. In a way…sort of.

I guess it depends on how it’s used and who’s saying it to you.

It’s kind of like “biatch,” or “homey.”  Your friends can call you a name like this – “What’s up, biatch? Love the dress.” But, your enemies better not.

Hikers can – and often do – affectionately refer to each other as hiker trash – “What’s up, hiker trash? Love the kilt.”

But, it’s not cool when townspeople call them hiker trash.

“Why, dagnabit, you hiker trash better git outta town. You smell like you ain’t bathed in days.” True as it may be, this is an insult and not how the term “hiker trash” ought to be used.

So for our purposes, consider ourselves sitting around a campfire together, trail friends and hiking buddies. Embrace your hiker trashiness. Own up to it because, like it or not, you are or have displayed the essence of hiker trash in the past.

No worries! You’re in good company. I’m hiker trash and proud of it. I know many others who are too. We have more in common than you might think.

So how do you know if you’re hiker trash?

You Might be Hiker Trash if…

You’ve spent a cold or rainy night in the restroom of a state park.

Hiker Trash avoiding rain in a pit toilet.

Hiker Trash “seeking shelter from the wind and rain in this pit toilet.” Photo courtesy of Diane Soini. Read the rest of the story at http://santabarbarahikes.com.

You consider it perfectly normal to go weeks without bathing.

You’ve stopped shaving to save weight in your pack.

You’ve diced Spam or Vienna Sausages into your Kraft Mac & Cheese.

You’ve repackaged the food you just bought into zip-loc baggies in front of the store.

You’ve ever searched a trail town looking for packs of condiments.

You’ve cut the excess handle off your toothbrush to save weight.

You’ve begged food from strangers in State Parks.

You know exactly how much everything in your pack weighs down to the ounce.

You’ve spent the last day before a trail town talking about nothing else but food.

You have, or have had, duct tape somewhere on your body.

You woke up at Trail Days in Damascus and you can’t remember how you got there.

Your friends use your trail name – even when you’re not hiking.

You have the initials of some long trail tattooed on your body.

Hikers washing in a river.

Photo credit: Steven “Cheese Wiz” Nolfi at http://sorryitsmyfirstday.blogspot.com/

You’ve stitched something together with dental floss.

You’ve suspended the 5 second rule when you’ve dropped food on the ground.

You consider swimming and bathing to be equivalent.

You have duplicate pieces of backpacking gear.

You consider a Snickers Bar a “square meal.”

There ya’ go! If you answered yes to at least one of these, chances are….

If not, then that doesn’t mean you aren’t hiker trash. It simply means my list is incomplete.

Have an example of hiker trash of your own? Let us all know in the comments section.

See ya’ on the trail,
Tastelikchickn

Updates:

Here are some additional and fun comments sent to me by email, Twitter and Google+. Thanks for the great “hiker trash” suggestions everyone.

Diane from www.santabarbarahikes.com will be happy to clean up any candy you drop on the trail….

“Ha ha the 5 second rule. It’s the free candy rule to me. I was hiking
with my boyfriend, who was visiting me for a weekend while I was hiking
the PCT, him in front. We stopped by a lake to rest. I asked if he had
seen an M&M in the trail earlier. He said he had. Then he looked at me
and said, You ate it, didn’t you? Yep. I ate all the candy I found in
the trail. Once I found sweet-tarts in the trail. Score! Once I found a
Snickers bar on a bus. Big score!

Oh and initials tattooed are for the timid.”
http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?64970-PCT-tattoo

From Twitter we have:

via Northeast Hikes@nehikes (also at northeasthikes.com) You might be hiker trash if “Purell is a soap & deodorant.”

via Unicoi Zoom @ncuriel (also at norasfatthike.tumblr.com) You might be hiker trash if “Drinking a quart of hot chocolate for breakfast seems like a good idea.”

And from the Google+ Thru-hiking Community we have this inspired gem from Melissa of Chasqui Mom

You might be hiker trash if you exfoliate with rocky sand while washing in the river.

Lost in Time on Timber Ridge Trail

(Trails Illustrated Map, National Geographic)

(Trails Illustrated Map, National Geographic)

Primordial. That about sums it up.

It’s not every day you get to go back in time, but that’s exactly what it feels like – to me at least – when I’m hiking on Timber Ridge Trail.

The feeling…it’s much more than being out in the middle of nowhere; though the remoteness is undeniable. It’s much more than the cool, damp, earthy-smelling air that settles in this deep ravine – even on a hot July day. And it’s so much more than the narrow path, fighting nature’s attempt to reclaim it.

There’s something else that makes it so primeval.

Primeval in appearance, this fern was growing on a live tree.

Deep, Dank and Dark

This moderate, 2.3 mile hike, starts at the same trailhead as Big Laurel Falls. The trail splits once you cross the bridge over a tributary of the Upper Nantahala River.

This is the lowest point of the trail at 3750 ft. Everything around you angles up sharply from here.

You’re surrounded by several 5,000 footers; Standing Indian Mountain (5499), Albert Mountain (5250) and Ridgepole Mountain (5043) – and then several more mountains and ridges over 4500 feet.

Being pinched in this dark, narrow creek bed, you feel buried deep in the mountains. It’s a bit deceiving, though, because you’re still 1600 feet higher than the town of Franklin.

Nonetheless you feel so small, dwarfed and enclosed. The shadows are heavy. Even in July, by 4 PM, you would swear dusk had fallen upon you. Sunlight is a commodity in this part of Standing Indian.

This wild mushroom adorns the Timber Ridge Trail.

It was the first day it hadn’t rained in about a week. By the afternoon the forecast was calling for only a 20% chance of rain the rest of the evening. The river was slightly higher than normal and the roar was deafening. We had to shout so we could hear each other.

The day was hot and sticky. At home the thermometer read 89 degrees. We’d been shut in for days. My wife and I needed to get outside. We needed to cool off.

Despite the fact that it was 69 degrees at the trailhead, 20 degrees cooler than home, the air was steamy, heavy and thick with moisture.

The forest canopy is dense this time of year and the Rhododendron tunnels are so dark, making our way rather tricky, we could have used headlamps.

I don’t know if it was from the darkness or from the tactile sound of the river – or both, but you could feel a palpable tension. There’s a living force here. This place is alive. For some reason, and I don’t always feel this, it was telling us to move along this afternoon.

From darkness to light - emerging from a rhododendron tunnel.

The light at the end of a Rhododendron tunnel.

Upward and Onward

The steepest part of Timber Ridge Trail, about 250 ft, is in the beginning and fortunately it doesn’t last too long. Once you’re out of the dark Rhododendron tunnels, the path begins to climb a gently rising ridgeline, which continues until the trail intersects with the AT.

After about a mile the understory opens and large patches of ferns begin to appear. Ferns are not uncommon in this part of western North Carolina and I love seeing them, but I wasn’t prepared for what I was about to see.

A woodland carpet of ferns!

For over a mile, the forest was carpeted in ferns.

Ferns as far as the eye can see.

They were everywhere as far as you could see; for over a mile, the understory was covered in ferns; tall, beautiful ferns. The only other thing below the hardwood canopy were some giant – and I mean giant – mushrooms.

Maybe it’s from all those trips to the natural history museums as a kid, or looking at books about dinosaurs or seeing fossilized evidence of long dead ferns, but, to me, ferns, more than anything else, represent prehistoric life, primeval environments. Seeing this enormous patch immediately brought up my childlike imagination and put me on guard for Velociraptors and Saber-toothed Tigers.

At one point a huge owl – the biggest I’ve ever seen – flew silently overhead. My immediate thought was…Pterodactyl! I laughed out loud and quickly came to my senses, wishing my kids were here to see it too. They have such great imaginations and would have loved to play along with the primordial fantasy.

What would our lives have been like back then? Who knows? But it was fun tossing the idea around.

These mushrooms were huge and they were spread out amongst the ferns.

Giant Mushrooms? Giant Fungus? All I know is my dog wouldn’t get near these things.

Back to Reality

Unfortunately, like all great hikes, this one had to come to an end sooner or later. We reached the AT – time to turn around and head home. The return trip was uneventful and less imaginative, mainly because the 20% chance of rain turned into a 100% torrential downpour.

Soaked to the skin, we drove home happy, refreshed and completely alive – and grateful to be living in our modern world. I don’t think I’d like to be eaten by a Velociraptor. Would you?

Ever feel like you’ve been transported back in time when you’re out on the trail? Share your experiences in the comment section.

See ya’ on the trail,
Tastelikchickn

Trail at a glance
Mileage: 2.3 miles one way to AT junction
Elevation change: 850 ft
Water sources: Streams/Springs
Trailhead: 4.9 miles past the Backcountry Info Center at Standing Indian

Supermoons, Wild Azaleas and Sentient Fog

We should have gone yesterday. The whole purpose of the hike was to see the supermoon from atop Silers Bald. Yesterday would have been perfect, but not tonight.

We watched the forecast. It was calling for partly cloudy skies and only a 20% chance of rain in the evening. That was at 8 AM.

You know what they say about the weather.

This isn't what we saw - this is what we were hoping to see.

This isn’t what we saw – this is what we were hoping to see.

By noon the percentage of rain for the evening went up to 40%. By 2 PM it had gone up to 60%. That seemed kind of high to me, but my daughter was excited to go.

She’s always looking on the bright side of things and was happy to point out that a 60% chance of rain also meant there was a 40% chance of no rain.

We packed rain gear just in case.

As we drove to the trailhead off 64 West you could see the clouds, dark and brooding, low and full of moisture, creeping in over the mountains.

We were in a 12 passenger van with 10 other people. Not a soul wanted to turn back. In fact, we talked about everything but the weather and not like we were ignoring it, but rather like we were all excited for the chance to hike together. It doesn’t happen often.

I’ve never seen such a happy group of hikers.

By now I’m sure you can see where this is going, so let’s cut to the chase. It rained on us. It started about 50 feet from the summit and lasted the rest of the hike.

There was no supermoon for us tonight, but the rain didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits. It was still an amazing hike.

“How can that be?” you might be wondering. Fair question.

First, you’ve got to understand this was no ordinary group of fair weather hikers. Nope! We’ve all seen our share of inclement weather and a little rain didn’t bother us.

Hikers, in the true sense of the word, will find enjoyment in almost any type of weather – not just fair weather.

Instead of complaining, we joked about the rain. We donned our rain gear – those of us who had it. We reminisced about past foul weather hiking. We sang songs. We opened our eyes to the beauty of a rainy walk.

It helped that the trail was ablaze with wild Flame Azaleas at the peak of their bloom – a month later than everywhere else around the area. And Mountain Laurel was surprisingly still in bloom too.wildazaleas

But the best part of the hike was seeing the fog rise up from the southern side of Silers Bald, crest the top as if being shot out of a fog cannon and then settling quickly in the valley on the north side of the bald.

I’ve never seen anything like it before. It was as if the fog was alive, breathing, thinking, scheming; blanketing the valley in soft, puffy silence.

When it comes down to it, it was the best hike ever (so far).

I got to do two of my favorite things tonight; walk in the rain and go for a night hike. Having my daughter with me made the trip that much better.

There will be other supermoons, other clear nights and other chances. Besides, my philosophy is a rainy day – or night – on the trail is better than a good day in the office.

See ya’ on the trail
Tastelikchickn