Category Archives: Interviews

Hiking, Trekking, Backpacking Interviews with outdoors men and women from all over the world.

RN meets vicious banana slug on the trail

From interviewing folks who enjoy and have a passion for the outdoors, I am often amazed to find that there are many hikers just like me, that make simple outdoor mistakes which could result in disasters.  Of course, we learn from them and tell the story to help others avoid dangerous decisions.  Tami Yanutik, an RN from Oregon who loves the outdoors, is one of those adventurous folks.  One of the things that makes her unique is that she is the only hiker on planet Earth who evaded the unconscionable grip of death from a ….Banana Slug!

How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?

I was one of those kids who always wished for the paved streets and manicured lawns of urban life.  Instead it was pot-holed, gravel roads with knee high burr-laden, brown weeds in the boonies.  I lamented this geographically rural upbringing early on, but as I grew older, I came to appreciate the the smells, sights, sounds and serenity of the outdoors.

Enjoying the serenity.

Enjoying the serenity.

What has been your favourite outdoor recreations area?

I have been born and raised in Oregon and have ventured and explored most of this great state’s nooks and crannies.  If I had to choose one area as a favorite it would probably be on the banks, along the crystal clear waters of the Illinois River.

Quiet Clear Waters

Quiet Clear Waters

Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.

I was taught to swim in the clarion pools of the Illinois along with our black lab Brutus.  Brute was a hulk of a canine and you never saw a kid dog paddle so fast as when Brute’s un-manicured claws where closing in.  Those very same claws came in handy on one occasion.  My eight year old imagination had me fancying myself as an pioneer woman.  In the books I’d read, the women pounded excess water out of their clothing with rocks.  The tales did not go into detail about the shape and texture of these early clothes dryers.  I picked up a promising pounding stone, one with many jagged, knife like protuberances and proceeded to pepper a new summer t-shirt with a multitude of diminutive holes.  Always a quick thinker (or a quick excuse maker), I came up with a brilliant explanation for those tiny breaches in the fabric.  It was simple.  Brutus, with his paws as big as pie tins, had walked his hulk over my shirt as it lay on the riverbank.  This was the story that spilled from my mouth as my father asked what had happened to my shirt.  It was the same fable told to my mother once back at home.  I escaped freely from that potential penalty with a hearty self-patting on the back.  I look back now as an adult on that incident and wonder if my parents knew but found too much mirth in the situation to let on?  I like to think I pulled it off!!

Have you ever experienced a wilderness medical emergency or been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.

I am an RN and fortunately have never had to kick any of my nursing skills into action out on the trails.  That is not to say I have not had close calls.  Just recently I went on what was to be a leisurely 5 – 6 mile hike with my cousin, visiting Montana boyfriend and Lolo, my Irish fairy dog (one blue eye, one brown eye).

Montana Friend at home in the wilderness.

Montana Friend at home in the wilderness.

The three of us, fairly fit, set out on the Briggs Creek Trail around 11am, day packs sparsely loaded and a liter canteen of water.  The trail follows along Taylor Creek in the old growth forest of the Siskiyou Wilderness.  The route was magical, with prehistoric sized aquatic plants, ancient colossal trees and piles of moss covered stones that were the tailings of old mining claims.

About 5 miles into the hike, we saw no sign of the road the trail was supposed to meet up with.   It was this road we planned on following back to where our vehicle was parked and our bountiful lunches were packed.  We unanimously voted to forge on a wee bit farther, feeling fortified by the hand full of grapes and gulps of water.  Two more miles and an extremely steep incline later, we came to a three-pronged fork in the trail.

Exploring the trail.

Exploring the trail.

Hugely disappointed in not seeing a maintained road we plopped down and devoured the remainder of our grapes, or what I will forever refer to as manna.  We were cursing ourselves at that point for a number of reasons, the most of which was the lack of sustenance, why didn’t I throw in that granola bar?  We had a choice, go the 7 miles back the way we came, or take one of the paths, which appeared more like a road, and kiss the dice for luck.

We gambled and took the downhill road…..we lost big time on that roll of the dice!  So there we were, 8 miles from the car, sun getting low in the sky and nothing to fuel our long trek back.  It was one foot in front of the other for the three of us humbled day trekkers on the 8 miles back.  Every leg muscle protested, my feet were soaked from a slip in a creek crossing and I dared not think of my grumbling stomach for fear I might puke.  Eight and a half hours and 15+ miles later, a finer site I had never seen as my SUV parked under the pine trees.

The three of us discussed our “deviations from accuracy” on the drive home.  We agreed, even those who have spent most of their lives hiking, camping, rafting, etc, can find themselves in unexpected situations.  While we were never truly lost, we knew we could retrace our steps and go out the way we came in, there are a smattering of things we would have done differently.  Always throw in an extra power bar or two, they take up very little room but provide great fuel.  Make sure your day pack has a flashlight and a thermal blanket.  We did not need these but there was that “oh sh*%” moment, at the bottom of the last road-to-nowhere when I thought we might.  Always tell someone back home exactly where you are going.  My cousin had told her parents but they are 70 and 80 years old and we weren’t sure they would remember!  Take an extra pair of socks, my feet were prunes from my misstep.

There was good to come out of this hike too.  I found out Lolo is a fantastic trail dog, tireless and obedient and the calories burned on the hike made the gorging on salt -n- vinegar chips guiltless!

Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?

Beware - Vicious Banana Slug!

Beware - Vicious Banana Slug!

I once came across a vicious banana slug on the trail.  How often do you get to see a real banana slug?!

What is your favourite outdoor website?

Loooove Women’s Adventure, it’s a magazine and a website.

What is your favourite outdoor hiking gear store?

I wouldn’t be a true Oregonian if I didn’t say Columbia, especially the deals at the outlet store!

Portland Hiker and Author of Hiking Books - Paul Gerald

Paul Gerald is the author and publisher of many books Two of his outdoor books that give up many of Portland`s hiking secrets caught my attention and are listed below.

I enjoyed completing an interview with Paul and really liked his blog. His blog is located at http://www.paulgerald.com and even has updates for one of his hiking guide books.

How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?

At a summer camp in northwest Wyoming. I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, but when I was 12 I got to attend a camp where we took trips on foot, horseback and canoe into the Shoshone National Forest, Absoraka-Beartooth Wilderess, and Yellowstone National Park. I went there three summers, five weeks per summer, and when it was over, I knew I was never going to live in Memphis my whole life.

What has been your favourite outdoor recreations area?

Lately Oregon, because it’s where I live.

Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.

I walked the Oregon section of the PCT in 2005, in two trips spanning a total of five weeks. It was such a fun trip, with mostly good weather, and we met a lot of cool folks that we wound up hiking with. Plus, it was a great introduction to all the wonderful natural beauty of our own state.

Have you ever experienced a wilderness medical emergency or been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.

Thankfully, no.

Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?

The best one was at that summer camp. We were on a canoe trip in Yellowstone, and while we were out on the lake fishing, we watched a big grizzly go through our camp, sniffing at tents and the firepit. It didn’t do any damage and never returned, but we sure didn’t sleep too well that night!

If not previously mentioned, have you ever completed a thru-hike or multi-day backpacking trip and what nuggets of wisdom did you glean from it?

The main wisdom I got from my PCT hike was twofold: one, weight really matters a lot, and two, that it takes me about a week to really settle into the groove.

What is your favourite outdoor website?
GORP.com
What is your favourite outdoor hiking gear store?
Next Adventure in Portland

Related Blogs

Pika on my toe!

I have mentioned the Central Okanagan Naturalists’ Club in a number of my posts at Tracks And Trails. The club does an enormous amount of work in promoting the Okanagan outdoors and the many safe, educational, and environmentally sound ways to enjoy the area. I recently contacted Rick Gee, a Okanagan Naturalist hiking guide and club director for an interview. I would highly recommend making your next hiking trip one with Rick on Oct 18 to Thunder Mountain!

Rick Gee

How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?
I go hiking with the Central Okanagan Naturalists’ (Club Director in charge of summer hiking) and Nordic Cross-Country Club (Director for snowshoeing. Sometimes I go by myself.

I was introduced to the outdoors by parents who went camping when I was a little guy. Mainly in BC and Alberta.

What has been your favourite outdoor recreations area?

My favourite hiking area is Lake O’Hara in particular and anywhere in the Rockies in general.

Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.

Here is a story about O’Hara, I was there in the fall many years ago. It was raining in the parking lot and the rain turned to snow partway up the road. We set up camp but slept in the kitchen shelter since the snow was so wet. The next morning,  the clouds were less than 50 metres above the lake but I went to Lake Oesa, in a bowl about 300 metres above Lake O’Hara, and at the level of Lake Oesa, the clouds stopped abruptly. The sky was blue, the sun was warm, the larch were golden, and the mountains had a coating of fresh snow.

Second story about O’Hara – I was there in the fall, not the same year as the previous story. I was sitting against a rock in the sun in the Hanging Garden of Babylon, an old name for part of the Opabin Plateau. I was watching a band of goats going left to right along Yukness Ledge and a group of hikers on Yukness Ledge, going right to left, just below the goats. There was a corner between the groups. I’m not sure which was more excited, the hikers or the band of goats, when they reached the corner at the same time!

Have you been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.

Been lost – no, but occasionally confused. On Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, I missed a buoy marking where the trail went off the beach into the trees. I had to climb a cliff to get off the beach then bash through salal to find the trail. On the Chilkoot Trail this summer it was so foggy I missed a trail marker, but I was able to find the route by listening to a group ahead who were singing to keep their spirits up.

Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?

Encounters with wildlife – Pika on my toe. Marmot leaning against my leg licking salt. Squirrel balancing on a rope between trees to get my food bag. Nothing life-threatening.

If not previously mentioned, have you ever completed a thru-hike or multi-day backpacking trip and what nuggets of wisdom did you glean from it?

Backpacking – I’ve been on many trips, the first was in 1971 to Berg Lake.  Some good backpacking advice is to buy quality equipment. Keep it light. Going by yourself can be enjoyable but the load will be heavier. Poly underwear is wonderful!

Favourite website? – I suppose I should say yours, but I really don’t have a favourite.

Favourite store? – Outdoor Adventure Gear (Kelowna) and MEC (everywhere but Kelowna).


Palm Springs hikes - Premier Winter Hiking Destinations...and Dream Homes!

It is my pleasure to introduce an adventurous hiker who has began a quest to hike the 140 hikes listed in a hiking book by Phillip Ferranti titled “140 Great Hikes in and near Palm Springs”. Negin Shams hope is to share the beautiful hiking trails in one of the premier winter hiking destinations, in the United States,with anyone out there who likes to hike!

When Negin is not hiking Dream Hikes of the desert she and her sister, Niloo are winning awards as they close sales on Dream Homes in the Palm Springs area. They specialize in the La Quinta, Palm Springs, Indio, Indian Wells, Palm Desert and Rancho Mirage areas. Founded in 1988, The Shams Group Real Estate Brokerage is one of the premier boutique real estate firms in the greater Palm Springs area. Niloo and Negin Shams, fraternal twins, had a vision to set new standards in marketing, technology and service when they started their real estate business. Enjoy the interview…

How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?
I was born in Iran and grew up in Mallorca Spain so my outdoor experiences were skiing, sailing and windsurfing until I moved to the Desert 20 years ago. That is when I started hiking trails.

What has been your favourite outdoor recreations area?
I recently went to Jacksonhole Wyoming and did some trails there. It was absolutely beautiful…one of the most beautiful areas I have ever seen! We were able to visit the Rockefeller Jr visitor center that paid homage to nature and conservation. The building was spectacular. I also really enjoyed hiking in Moab in Utah. The red rock was amazing. The trail we hiked was not too strenous so we got to really see the surrounding rock formations.

Have you ever been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.
Never been lost.

Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?
On one of our very early morning hikes in Rancho Mirage, my sister and I came face to face with a Big Horn sheep. Wow, I had no idea their heads were so large and the horns so intimidating. The sheep was perched on a cliff, looking down at the city lights. I imagined this magnificent animal wondering what happened to his natural world as he knew it. We stood there staring at eachother, and my sister and I decided to just turn around and go back down the trail!!

If not previously mentioned, have you ever completed a thru-hike or multi-day backpacking trip and what nuggets of wisdom did you glean from it?
Never done either but looking forward to my first experience. I will keep you posted.

What is your favourite outdoor hiking gear store?
REI

If you are a website administrator please add your url here. www.theshamsgroup.com

Outdoor Interview with Lynn Martel author of Expedition to the Edge

When Lynn Martel is not working as a full time freelancer, she is outside ski touring, climbing, backpacking, and completing research. With book reading and signing events for her new book “Expedition to the Edge”, I was fortunate to attain an interview with her.

Lynn is a world class adventurer, published author and columnist. The introduction to her book reading and signing event in Winnipeg Janurary 4th describes her new book “Expedition to the Edge” Stories of Worldwide Adventure, as follows:

From skilled weekend warriors to internationally recognised stars of the professional adventure game, Lynn Martel has interviewed dozens of the most dynamic, creative and accomplished self-propelled adventurers of our time. In Expedition to the Edge, Martel has assembled 59 compelling and entertaining stories that uniquely capture the exploits, the hardships, the fears and the personal insights of a virtual who’s who of contemporary adventurers as they explore remote mountain landscapes from the Rockies to Pakistan to Antarctica.

How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?

My family used to go for day picnics in Vermont, about 90 minutes’ drive from our home in Montreal. I looked at the families who were camping and wondered what that would be like. Then I went to Girl Guide camp north of Montreal, and got to sleep outside in a tent on floor boards. I liked it enough to go for two weeks, four consecutive summers. I didn’t discover real wilderness until I moved to Banff in my early 20s.

What has been your favourite outdoor recreations area?

I love the Canadian Rockies, the Selkirks and Bugaboos in B.C., and the US southwest desert. I also loved New Zealand, and the Cordillera Blanca Mountains in Peru.

Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.

In winter, 2008, I spent a week at a ski touring lodge in the Rockies called Icefall Lodge. It’s a fly in – the helicopter taxis you to the lodge, then comes back a week later to pick you up. No real running water, a wood stove for heat, wood burning sauna at the end of the day. We climb up slopes with skins on our ski bases, then ski down in fresh powder. On the last day we did a 10-hour, 5000 vertical foot tour, skinning up through an icefall, weaving our way through crevasses that split the glacier open, some big enough to swallow a car. The light was flat and mysterious, the whole mountain world around us was eerie. Then not far into our run down on an adjacent glacier, we followed our guide, lodge owner Larry Dolecki, right through an ice canyon on the glacier, skiing down an eight-foot wide chute with 40-foot high walls towering above us on both sides. Then it was a 4500-foot run of fresh powder all the way to the valley bottom – the coolest ski day I’ve ever experienced. The whole group, 10 of us (with no other people in any of the valleys we were skiing, or miles beyond them either), was so excited and on such a high we didn’t even mind the three-hour, 2500-foot climb back to the lodge.

Have you ever experienced a wilderness medical emergency or been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.

I was involved in an avalanche once. I learned to trust my instincts, and that accidents don’t happen the way you imagine they might, or the way you think you might be prepared for them. And that they can happen.

Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?

I’ve had a couple, but my favourite was many years ago. I was mountain biking on a quiet single-track trail, and came around a corner to find myself facing a bear and her little cub of the year. The cub was creamy white. About 15 feet away from me, I looked at the momma, close enough to see the fur on her chocolate brown, black bear ears. She looked right back at me, and I stood holding on to my handle bars, the only thought in my mind was that I had screwed up, and she had every reason to charge me. But she didn’t, she just walked quickly into the bushes. Her cub however, had climbed up and tree, and when he realized momma was gone, he backpedalled down the tree and lit off after her into the bushes. They were both terrified, and I felt bad. But also exhilarated. The entire encounter was over in a minute, maybe less. It was a very special moment.

If not previously mentioned, have you ever completed a thru-hike or multi-day backpacking trip and what nuggets of wisdom did you glean from it?

Many! Keep your pack as light as possible, then take out more stuff! Pitch your tent in line with the wind, not broadside to it. Camping on a glacier in minus 30 is not fun!! One step at a time, and if something is making you miserable, remember, in the words of Karsten Heuer this is only temporary.

What is your favourite outdoor website?

avalanche.ca for safety, and http://gravsports.blogspot.com/ for well-expressed insights

What is your favourite outdoor hiking gear store?

MEC

If you are a website administrator please add your url here.

www.lynnmartel.ca

Outdoor Afro

Outdoor Afro is a website community that reconnects African-Americans with natural spaces and one another through recreational activities such as camping, hiking, biking, boating, gardening, and skiing.Outdoor Afro uses social media to create interest communities, events, and to partner with regional and national organizations that support diverse participation in the Great Outdoors.

During her childhood, Rue Mapp split her time between urban Oakland, California and her families’ working ranch in the Northern woodlands, where she cultivated a passion for natural spaces, farming, and learned how to hunt and fish. As a youth, her participation in the Girl Scouts and Outward Bound broadened her outdoor experiences, such as camping,  mountaineering, rock climbing, and road bicycling. But Rue was troubled by the consistently low numbers of African Americans participating in these activities. So Rue became committed to using the internet as an important and practical tool to connect with people of color who shared her outdoor interests. Outdoor Afro emerged from that commitment.

Enjoy an interview with Rue as she shares an interesting story, insight and a fun new outdoor ritual.

How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?

I was actually raised by a couple with strong ties to the south — they were much older than the parents of my friends, so generationally speaking, they were more like grandparents. This meant that they had come directly from a solid tradition of living in close contact with the land and it was a part of who they remained. Even though they had a primary residence in Oakland, California they also had a farm about 100 miles north in Lake County, where we spent most weekends, holidays, and the summertime. There, I had the chance to roam and explore the land freely – on foot at the nearby creek or using my bike. We also slaughtered pigs and cows; I had an important part in preparing the meat for smoking and freezing. My folks also grew a terrific vegetable garden along with several fruit trees and grape vines. So early on, I understood the ties between people, land, and food. My parents also modeled for me how important it was to “get away from it all”, and find peace in the natural environment.

Back home in Oakland, I joined the Girl Scouts, which provided me with my first structured camping and hiking experiences. I loved camping from the start and I also journaled about those times in great detail then, just as I do now! Over the years I built on my experiences through my participation in Outward Bound, local activity clubs, and maintain a high priority for outdoor interaction in my own family.

What has been your favourite outdoor recreations area?

I actually enjoy now my local San Francisco Bay Trail and the Feather River Family Camp, located in Quincy, California.

Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.

For my family, I need to go where there are a range of options for my entire crew to enjoy. I have been going to Feather River camp since I was a child, but now each year as an adult, I meet up with the self titled “Stumpers” and converge on the camp’s Folk Dance Week theme. We are notorious for our daily all-inclusive Happy Hour, around a big old stump that doubles as a lounge table. We even came up with a theme song some years back (”Here at Feather River!”) that celebrates the camp, our group, and the City of Oakland — and each year we add a new, clever verse that summarizes the peculiarities of each year.

Have you ever experienced a wilderness medical emergency or been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.

I went for what I thought was a short hike while camping in my local regional park, and even though the plan was to go for just a short while, the trail was much hotter and longer than expected, and I did not bring any water. Needless to say, I was felt at once thirsty and foolish for leaving my water behind on an unfamiliar trail. So I learned never to go without water, even if only for a “short” hike, and that it’s always good to research your trail or have a map!

Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?

Yes, while mountaineering in the Sequoyah National Forest, my group encountered a cub on the return to our campsite, and watched it try to figure out our “bear hang” of food. We remained several yards away, but were awestruck at the enormity and beauty of the creature. We were also quite aware that the mother might be nearby, so keeping our distance and silence was critical. The bear gave up eventually and left without incident or even noticing us.

If not previously mentioned, have you ever completed a thru-hike or multi-day backpacking trip and what nuggets of wisdom did you glean from it?

With Outward Bound, I was in the wilderness for about 2 weeks, and the first thing I learned was to let go of the need to control  my surroundings and to “trust my feet” to keep me on the path (or up the mountain), which was a profoundly experience for me.

What is your favourite outdoor website?

Outdoor Afro, our course!

What is your favourite outdoor hiking gear store?

The Wilderness Exchange, near my house in the San Francisco Bay Area for good gear at great prices, and my local REI that has all the outdoor eye-candy you could ever want!

If you are a website administrator please add your url here:

http://outdoorafro.com

Outback Jack

Jacqueline Hancock lives hikes and treks in the Australian Outback. She says, “It is almost like the harsh varying conditions of drought and flood makes for some “real unusual weathering” or perhaps it’s just that we grow in more isolation up here and that lets us develop some more “interesting” shapes like crystals forming quietly in a “vug” or geode!”. Jacqueline is passionate about God, her country and is a teacher at heart. Here website, Outbackjack.info is full of outback trekking stories and adventures. In here writings of the outback you will get specific information like hiker hut locations, great laughs and little of the gospel as taught at a unique outback church where the congregation seeks to be true disciples of Jesus and minister to those living in the outback of Australia. Thanks for an entertaining and informative interview outbackjack!

How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?

I have always been an outdoor “tomboy” kind of a person from as long as I can remember.  I grew up with my mother and Grandparents on small acreage and preferred to spend my time outside with the horses, ducks and chooks etc. I remember my Nanna always preferring to work outside in the garden instead of doing housework and I am the same. On Sunday afternoons after we had been to Church my mum would often take the “four generations” (Great grandmother, Nanna, Mum and I for Sunday drives in the country. We would take turns picking which road or turn to take and then mum had to find her way home again. We never got lost and I got to see a lot of our state this way.

What has been your favourite outdoor recreations area?

I wouldn’t be able to choose I love so many things, gardening, fishing, photography, collecting mineral specimens and just walking through the bush. I remember when I was young I could spend ages just watching the ants and animals to see what they were doing.
Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.

Hiking in Lakeland district United Kingdom.
My first trip overseas was to the UK. I was at Tabor Bible Collage at the time and God had made it clear that he wanted me to go to the UK. There are many amazing things I could tell you about how he opened the doors and made it possible but that could take a book. Anyway after experiencing his amazing provision to get there I ended up visiting the Lakeland district. Being an outdoors girl I decided to go for a hike to see what I could see. I grabbed a map and headed off.
The green countryside was amazing to someone who grew up in the driest state in the driest continent also all the water! I made my way past the coloured pencil factory and to the other side of the lake when I came across an incredible running stream. Incredible to me cause all our creeks only run in winter and not for very long at that, but also incredible as the stream water was crystal clear. I was about 26 years old but I just had to play in that creek lol.
I took off my shoes and investigated the life of the stream tipping up rocks to see what lived there. I was so engrossed in my activities that I did not notice my map flying off in the breeze. When I got out discovered that the map was gone I suddenly realised that no-one knew my where abouts including me. In short I was lost. However England is not the Outback of Australia and I firmly believed that since Jesus had brought me here to England he was also able to get me back to my lodgings.
So I just prayed and said “which way Lord”. For the next hour or so I hiked along a trail and came to a few houses. I got some directions and found I was heading in the right direction. I made it to the edge of the town I was staying in but there were so many streets I had no idea which one to take. I prayed again and was told to turn right. This however brought me to a Church. It was now about 8.30 at night – twilight in England at the height of summer. I remember saying to God I know that in a theological sense that a Church may represent my spiritual home, but you would well know I meant where I was staying for the night”. However I got the impression that God did not bring me here randomly so I decided to investigate the area. Behind the Church was a small cemetery and sitting on a bench was a man who looked so sad. I went and spoke to him. He was desperate, down on his luck and about to give up on life. I shared with him my days journey and suggested that perhaps Jesus had orchestrated my day so that I could find him and share how much God really did love him.
I ended up taking him into town wondering what to do with him. I knew no-one in town. I prayed for direction asking God to help me find a local Christian who could watch over him for awhile. It must have been around 10pm by now and as we came around a corner I spied a Christian Bookshop and praise God the light was on. I told them what had happened and they knew this man but had not seen him for awhile. Anyway they took him in and told me how to find my way home. Moral of this story “if in doubt – pray” !
Have you ever experienced a wilderness medical emergency or been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.
Whilst in the Army and doing a camp in Port Augusta we experience some unusual weather. The temperature went from the high thirties where we had soldiers brought in with Heat stress to extremely cold overnight temperatures which caused some to suffer hypo-thermia. I had not much experience at this time of this sort of climate and it certainly taught me that you need to be prepared for all sorts of weather when out in the bush. In Australia you will find climate extremes and our land can be harsh and sometimes unforgiving. You must always be prepared for the unexpected. You never go out on a trip or hike in the outback without water either as we don’t have nice babbling brooks dotted along the way.
Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?

Whilst working at Spud’s Roadhouse in Pimba I used to go for a daily run to keep fit. It was only about 6 kms run on the main road to Woomera and nothing about but Gibber plains. What should have been an uneventful route turned in to being a game of “look out for the emu”” . We had an emu who decided to make our area home and whilst he was generally not too dangerous you didn’t want to come across him in a tight corner or look like you were running at him. One morning about 7am I was too engrossed in my thoughts to be watching out for him and I remember suddenly looking up and there he was and I was running straight at him. I stopped and wondered if I should hit the ground as emus can disembowel you with their extremely strong legs and claws. He however to my relief just walked on by and I always after that watched out for him.
If not previously mentioned, have you ever completed a thru-hike or multi-day backpacking trip and what nuggets of wisdom did you glean from it?
Unfortunately I have never completed a thru-hike as none of my friends are into this and so had no-one to go with. We however are always off camping in the bush and outback with our 4 wheel drive. A lot of places we go are very remote and harsh and hiking would only be recommended for the extremely fit and capable hiker. The best motto whether you are hiking or 4 wheel driving is to be prepared and keep a good respect for the environment you are in.
What is your favourite outdoor website?

Don’t have a favourite but Rita’s Outback Guide and Camp oven Cook are good spots. Also I love forum sites like the 4×4 explorer as you get first hand knowledge from people who have “been there, done that”.
What is your favourite outdoor hiking gear store?
Army disposal stores, as I am used to Army type equipment. Lol
If you are a website administrator please list your website here:
Yep I am a website administrator and I have my own website http://www.outbackjack.info but I also edit/create websites for Outback communities. So far in the last 12 months I have worked on the following
http://www.kingoonya.org.au http://www.andamooka.sa.au and have just begun work on http://www.ironknob.org All sites are informative about what you can do in our outback towns and areas.

Oregon Adventure Secrets

I met Brenda Edin through Twitter and after researching several incredible Oregon adventures at www.OregonAdventurist.com I was in awe at the quality of her adventure website. Oregon Adventurist is a free reader-driven weekly web magazine, highlighting the best in Oregon’s lifestyle of adventure and exploration. The insider format offers unsolicited hints, highlights, recommendations and off-the-beaten track secrets from its readers and staff alike. Brenda is keen on building a community of folks that share her love of travel and exploration throughout the northwest. Enjoy her interview and a few Oregon secrets!

How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?

Raised in Minnesota, my brother and I spent a good deal of our growing up years out on the lake fishing and riding bikes through the countryside. We also did a lot of camping and road tripping with my family. Adventure and exploration has always been core for me, but it wasn’t until moving to Oregon in the late 90’s that I discovered the joy of hiking.  My first hike was actually on the drive into the state. After hours and hours of being in the car, we cut off I-84 onto the Historic Columbia River Highway and stopped at the first trailhead we saw – Oneonta Gorge. It’s still one of my favorite treks

What has been your favourite outdoor recreations area?

The Pacific Northwest at-large is such a phenomenal part of the world that it’s hard to narrow it down to just one area. For camping and hiking, I’m a huge fan of the Columbia River Gorge. I also enjoy the high desert in Central Oregon, but to be fair, I can’t really think of an area in Oregon that DOESN’T offer spectacular outdoor adventure. We’ve got ocean, rivers, mountains, deserts, valleys – the diversity and recreational opportunity is pretty vast.

Have you ever experienced a wilderness medical emergency or been lost in the wilderness?

I’ve never been lost or had a wilderness medical emergency, but I have certainly overextended myself by underestimating the length of a trail or the weather conditions.  When I was new to the area I had friends come for a visit and wanted to show off the panoramic view from Larch Mountain. They arrived in November. I had previously taken the hike in June. Not realizing that the elevation meant snow cover that time of year, we didn’t plan for trekking in 2 feet of snow or the extra energy and time required to reach the viewpoint. Nothing critical, but we ended up walking down the trail in the dark, underdressed, miserably cold and incredibly hungry. Now I always pack a Camelback with water, a snack and an emergency blanket and we’ve outfitted our children with the same gear. My son has also taken on the responsibility of trail medic. In addition to his own gear, he packs a first aid kit and implements skills he’s learned from my partner, a longtime emergency medicine professional, whenever the need arises.

Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?

This past summer we were out on a trek near Nehalem Bay on the Oregon coast and came across a family of three deer. Separated only by some tall grass, the deer were only 7-8 feet from us. My entire family, along with the deer, were all struck silent staring at each other perfectly frozen for what seemed to be an eternity. Being city folks, having that kind of encounter with wild animals is magical and highly memorable.  It was a moment where time stood still and we made a true connection with Nature.

What is your favourite outdoor website?

I love the reader-submitted adventures of our website OregonAdventurist.com Two of my personal, regular go-to sites for hiking include http://www.gorgefriends.org andhttp://www.oregonstateparks.org.  Oregon State Parks just came out with a stellar map of the Oregon Coast Trails http://www.oregon.gov/OPRD/PARKS/OCT_main.shtml

What is your favourite outdoor hiking gear store?

I’m partial to supporting local culture and economy so my favorites are Oregon-based companies. Because we outfit an entire family for our outdoor adventures, I like Columbia, Keen and Kleen Kanteen. They’ve got rugged, high quality gear that can not only stand up to the Elements, it can handle the wear and tear of active kids.

If you are a website administrator please add your url here.  http://www.OregonAdventurist.com

Munro Bagging?

TracksAndTrails’s latest hiking interview was sent to Matthew Swaine, the editor of Trail Magazine and website titled Live For The Outdoors. While every interview thus far has provided me helpful new outdoor information or information that reinforces a current practice, it is a real pleasure to read and visualize the hiking trails of lands from afar as mentioned in Matthew’s interview. The Trail Magazine promises to bring the spirit of Adventure to your home, so does the following interview!

Thank you Matthew for providing outdoor enthusiasts with an educational resource and great ideas for a dream trip to Europe!

How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?

I got my introduction to walking through a group at school. It was our chance to escape the classroom, get away from weekends under parental supervision and push ourselves. At the age of 14 we were navigating by ourselves across Dartmoor in the south of England, sleeping under canvas, cooking up outdoors and learning how to rely on ourselves and each other.

What has been your favourite hiking trail or outdoor area?

I’ve done bits of walking in the Himalaya, the Swiss Alps, Italy, Central America and Spain but there’s nothing that beats Scotland for me. The mountains might not match other countries in terms of height but they are just magnificent, varied and packed with really quality lines to the tops. There’s a hobby in the UK called Munro-bagging, which involves climbing all the mountains in Scotland over 3000ft. There are 283 of them and they are spread across the Scottish Highlands. Anyone visiting Scotland should start by visiting our website and discovering a bit about the Munros.

Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.

A couple of winters ago I tackled the Aonach Eagach, a long ridge of pretty tough winter mountaineering. I was led by British mountaineer Alan Hinkes who was the first Brit to climb all 14 of the world’s 8000m peaks. It was a gnarly day, long technical and very tough at the end trying to find our way off. You can see the video here.
Have you ever been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.

As the editor of Trail magazine I tend to do a lot of my features in the company of first class mountain experts and they tend to take responsibility for navigation, so I’m probably less skilled as a navigator than I was aged 14! For one feature I was blindfolded, driven over 180miles and dropped in the middle of no where and then asked to navigate north without a compass for two days. It was a brilliant way to tune into using the sun, foliage growth and wind direction to navigate. Quite by accident I hit my target almost dead on… It was a complete fluke! Take a look at the video below to see how to navigate using your watch.

Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?

My favourite was meeting a seal in a cave off the Pembrokeshire coast in Wales, UK. It was a large male and I was swimming around a headland unaware it was in the cave. It swam underneath me, and appeared 10m away blowing salt water out of its nostrils. We don’t have a lot of “charismatic mega fauna” in our country but seeing a seal so close up and being in its environment was simply magical.

If not previously mentioned, have you ever completed a thru-hike or multi-day backpacking trip and what nuggets of wisdom did you glean from it?

We do a lot of multi-day hikes for the magazine and I am learning to carry less, wear lighter shoes, ditch more of the luxuries that never get used. Lighter is definitely easier but I am lucky because I get a lot of free gear to test so price really isn’t an issue. If I was buying my own kit I’d be less keen on spending lots of money on lightweight kit and much keener on finding low cost, DIY ways of putting kit together. Here’s the link for a video and the plans for my rucksack

What is your favourite outdoor website?

Apart from our own website www.lfto.com I really likehttp://www.backpacking.net/makegear.html/
At the start of this year I gave myself two weeks to construct my own waterproof, rucksack, tarp, fleece and hat. It was a crash course in sewing but fantastically liberating. I really believe you don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy the outdoors and I think learning to make your own kit is really satisfying way of buying kit you don’t really need.

What is your favourite outdoor hiking gear store?

Too many to name

If you are a website administrator please add your url here.

www.lfto.com or www.twitter.com/trailmagazine

Long tough Treks in India to some of the highest mountain passes in the World - an interview with Be-Outdoors Marketing Guru Harsimran Kaur

An avid traveler, reader and culture enthusiast, Harsimran Kaur has a special love for the high Himalayas of northern India especially Ladakh and Kashmir. Harsimran has also worked as a guide and program leader with an experiential education organization with summer outdoor programs for youths and teens in India.

Harsimran is Vice President, Sales and Marketing for Be-Outdoors.com and I appreciate her taking the time to share glimpse of her outdoor experiences in India.

How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?

I belong to an Indian Army household and as a result was introduced to the outdoors at an early age, through camps that were organised by the Army for the officers’ children. I distinctly remember how, even though I was very young, about 8, I loved being on my own, sometimes with much older kids and enjoyed every bit of the activities we were put through, from very long treks to pretty tough rock climbing for an 8 year old.

What has been your favourite outdoor recreations area?

Does travelling to new, remote areas on my own and interacting with the local population to get to know more of them and their culture fit the bill? Because that’s what I absolutely love doing. And because India is so huge and diverse with so many surprises to offer, it’s been my aim for a while to travel through every centimetre of it before I head out anywhere else.
Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas. In the summer of 2007, I was doing the job of a voluntary teacher in a small village called Kahalatse in Ladakh. There were 2 American girls who also worked in the same school. One fine day, they decided they wanted to go from our village to Srinagar, a distance of about 400 km, by the local Jammu & Kashmir Road Transport Corporation bus. They asked me if I wanted to accompany them and I not only refused but also advised them strongly against undertaking this trip because even though the distance is not too much, the road or the lack of it at many places, passes over some of the highest passes in the world and a JKSRTC bus, a rickety contraption at best, would be a near suicidal mode of transport on those roads. I also offered to arrange a 4 X 4 taxi for them and they agreed to the offer but while I was in one of the only 2 phone booths in the village, not having much luck with the phone lines, the bus rolled along and they not only jumped on it but managed to convince me to hop on too.

The bus stopped for a minute at our school and I scrambled inside and put together a few things to take along and we were off ! It deserves mention that we were the only 3  passengers in the bus, right till the time the bus reached this place called Sonmarg and the driver told us he wouldn’t go further and left us to fend for ourselves.

We started at about 4 in the evening and at 2 in the morning reached Drass, the second coldest inhabited place on earth, where the driver told us to get our sleeping bags out for we were going to halt for a few hours in the night. We stared blankly at him because we had no clue the bus was going to stop anywhere and he grumbled and gave us one of his flea infested blankets which the 3 of us used together without a complaint. 20 hours (for a 9 hour journey), a puncture, a deserting by the driver at Sonmarg and a very cold night later, we arrived in Srinagar, tired but exhilarated beyond words by the sights we got to see along the way – herds of wild horses, exotic flowers growing in the wild, beautiful monasteries perched atop very high mountains, majestic snow capped peaks, mountains in hues of orange, green and purple, not to mention the fearful thrill of being in a bus that’s trying to manoeuvre past a truck and almost going over the edge of a very high mountain road in the process.
What is your favourite outdoor website?
http://www.be-outdoors.com

Jason Mchugh - let this Swag expert take you through Gold Mines to Goannas

Is it going to be a traditional or a dome and if it is to be a swag – which one is right for you? These are the questions Jason Mchugh endeavors to answer at campingswag.com. The Australian outdoor gear website is growing into the most complete resource for camping swags online. In addition to having all the various models that one can imagine, it covers tutorials and swag reviews as well. Prior to meeting Jason via a comment on TracksAndTrails.ca, I had never heard of a Swag. For those of you who may be wondering, a swag is pretty much the same as what we in North America would call a bivvy or bivouac, a small lightweight waterproof shelter.

Jason Mchugh grew up in Victoria County in Australia and is the outdoorsman who knows a little about swags. He has hiked and camped and bushwacked since he was knee high to a grasshopper. Enjoy the interview as he guides you from Gold mines and bush walks to Goannas!

How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?

I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t go camping. As I grew up our family would pack up the 4WD and go camping at every opportunity. Each Christmas we would head to Wrens flat or Sheep yard flat in the Victorian High country of Australia for two weeks. When Easter came around we would spend a week in the beautiful Buckland Valley in Victoria’s Alpine region behind Bright.

Camping Swags - all you need to know

Camping Swags – all you need to know

So I guess you could say I was introduced to camping by my parents when I was a wiper snapper!

What has been your favourite outdoor recreations area?

This question is a no brainer to me, the Victorian high county, which provides spectacular scenery of magnificent bushland. A play ground for all lovers of the great outdoors weather you enjoy bush walking, motor bike riding, four wheel driving or riding a horse through mountains on the endless trails. I have been privileged to explore many other parts of Australia, which are truly magnificent, although I keep coming back to the high country.

Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.

Every year on a long four day week end in June myself and a group of about 18 friends and work colleges, head away on our annual boys week end. A four wheel drive trek through the bush, starting at Buckland Valley heading over the range and down though the Wonnangatta valley which was once an old cattle station and a great place to explore with many historical points of interest. We then head off again over the next range to make camp setting our swags up by the creek at a place named Talbotville. This was once an old gold mining town with some great treasures to find on the many bush walks. These bush walks are a running Joke each year on our trip, because some of the people that come on this trip have only ever walked to the fridge. But each year my brother forces them all to explore another walking track in mountainous terrain this nearly kills half of our walking party and takes twice as long as an average walker. Once we reach our destination we are rewarded with the sight of an old gold mine that has not been used since the steam engine days, everything is still there the trolleys on the rail tracks in the tunnels, old stampers and old steam engines.
After Talbotville it’s off to the Dargo pub an old country pub that serves a great pub meal. After Dargo we follow our tracks back home all smelly and in need of a shower which is where my wife sends me as soon as I walk through the door.

Have you ever experienced a wilderness medical emergency or been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.

It has been a long time since I have had experience with emergencies’ in the bush. The last time was over twenty five years ago when my brother was riding his motor bike and had a head on collision with another bike rider that came around a blind corner on the wrong side of the road. Both riders were in need of medical help and we were nearly two hours drive through bush tracks from a hospital. We lay them in the back of a Ute with their motor bikes and raced them off to hospital. Luckily my brother injuries weren’t that serious just cuts and burses and a broken hand. To be honest there wasn’t much we could learn from this as we did everything that we were supposed to do as we had been taught from a young age. On the other hand the other rider was under the influence and all over the road, he not wearing the protective clothing my brother was.

Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?

The funniest encounter I have witnessed with an animal was a while ago when I was in Kakadu at the top end of Australia. We had camped at the Holiday Park and it was as hot as buggery. I had woken up early and was walking to the rubbish bin to throw out my rubbish when I nearly stood on a 4 foot long goanna which turned and hissed at me and frighten the #### out of me. Goannas aren’t dangerous but can be scary. After this encounter I sat in my chair and watched it wonder around scavenging for food and exploring other camps. There were a couple of blokes that were sleeping in swags just across from me and because it was so hot they had the top of the swag pulled back, there swags weren’t equipped with fly mesh. Well the goanna saw this sleeping head sticking out of the swag and thought he would investigate. Well he licked the man’s head which caused him to wake up! I have never seen anyone wake so quickly or jump so high in my life. I think hearing me laugh didn’t help him feel any better.

If you are a website administrator please add your url here.
http://www.campingswag.com/

Hiking Tokyo - Japan with Maxine Nelson

Maxine Nelson realized early on a true passion for writing. A memoir is in the works for publication in the near future. Currently she writes about her passions for all kinds of music, the performing arts, and local events in her area.

I found one of her articles on hiking and was pleased when she completed an outdoor interview with me. Her tales of hiking to explore nature and find serenity amongst the temples in the mountains of Japan and South Korea are spell binding. Connect with Maxine Nelson on Twitter.

1.) How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?

When I lived in Japan as a child going to Mt. Takao on school holidays, which is within the Tokyo metropolitan area. It is densely wooded with well-marked numbered hiking trails. That was my introduction to hiking.

2.) What has been your favourite outdoor recreations area?

The areas in Japan, and South Korea, where there are temples and shrines, usually in the mountains. It is so peaceful, serene, and quiet. You literally are communing with nature while hiking.

3.) Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.

It was during the New Year’s holiday in Japan I went to the island of Miyajima, where the famous red floating tori (gate to a shrine) has been photographed countless times in books, travel posters, and other travel literature. There is a hiking trail that leads up to the top of the mountain on the island. I wanted to see the view from the top. Along the way I encountered someone banging on a gong. I went inside the shrine or temple to see what was going on. Lo and behold there was a priest in the middle of some ceremony. Whenever I’ve gone hiking in the past these temples are always so quiet and empty. It was startling to see someone there for a change.

4.) Have you ever experienced a wilderness medical emergency or been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventu re and any lessons learned.

Thankfully no, I tend to hike where it isn’t so remote. I wouldn’t call myself an adventurous hiker.

5.) Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?

I’ve seen some scurry about, but for the most part I only hike where a lot of people seem to come through on a daily basis. When you hike in and around temples and shrines, such as in Japan and South Korea, I always feel very safe and secure.

6.) If not previously mentioned, have you ever completed a thru-hike or multi-day backpacking trip and what nuggets of wisdom did you glean from it?

I went with a group to hike/climb Mt. Fuji during its climbing season in the month of July (and ends in late August). Most of us in the group did not make it to the top of the summit to see the sun rise. It was raining a lot. They discourage climbers not to go out when it rains, because the trails and rocks are very slippery. However, we did get to see the sun rise par tially and it was a glorious sight. What nuggets of wisdom I learned was to persevere and “make it work” like Tim Gunn always says on the reality TV show “Project Runway”.
7.) What is your favourite outdoor website?

LL Bean, they are the best and cater perfectly to my needs.

8.) What is your favourite outdoor hiking gear store?

LL Bean (when in Maine) and Bill Jackson Shop-Adventure in Pinellas Park, Florida.

Hiking Lady

Hiking Lady aka; Carol Roberts is a TracksAndTrails.ca Ranger. I received this completed interview from her as she returned from climbing Mt. Whitney. I read the interview and my minds eye was ushered to  alpine meadows, distant mountains and free flowing rivers as she named the many magical place names of outdoor wonder and majesty. Maybe this interview will be the call that sets your feet to the trails…

How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?

I’ve been hiking ever since I learned how to walk! My childhood home backed up to a small canyon in Southern California, and my brother and I would explore and go on our own little adventures. On family vacations we visited several U.S. National Parks including the popular destinations of Yellowstone, Yosemite, Crater Lake, the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Zion. Additionally, at an early age I was lucky to go to Canada as well, and hiked in Banff and Glacier/Waterton Lakes Parks.

What has been your favourite hiking trail or outdoor area?

I love the Sierra Nevada mountains in my home state of California. Yes, I know that is a very broad answer, because it includes everything from Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks to Mammoth Lakes and lesser known areas like Mt. Goode and Bishop Lakes, but it is beautiful year-round! Snowshoeing in the Sierras is my favorite wintertime outdoor activity!

Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.

My real love of hiking began on Canadian turf at Lake Louise in Banff National Park. That place is just so breathtaking that when I visited as a kid I did not want to go home! At the time I was a young girl and was with my family on a summer vacation. We spent the morning canoeing in turquoise glacial waters of Lake Louise, with the gorgeous backdrop of the snow capped Canadian Rockies in the distance. It was a pretty hot day, and we were all thirsty after paddling around the lake. We had heard about the Lake Agnes Teahouse, a short hike away, so of course my family decided to head over for some cool drinks. After hiking and hiking some more, we realized it wasn’t going to be a short little jaunt afterall! As I took in the stunning views of Lake Louise that peeked through the dense forests, I envisioned a nice cool lemonade. My parents encouraged my brother and me to keep up, telling us the sooner we got there, the sooner we’d have some lemonade and snacks! After about 2 miles (it seemed much farther), we got to the Lake Agnes Teahouse, and were all ready for some cool refreshments when the waitress told us they had run out of drinks! Even though I’ve never been thirstier as I was that day at the Lake Agnes Teahouse, the stunning views quenched a far deeper thirst and sure got me hooked on hiking and outdoor adventures!

Have you ever been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.

Luckily I’ve never been lost! The most important thing I do before leaving home on a backpacking adventure is to leave my trip plan with my family or friends. I have heard way too many stories of people being lost in the wilderness and rescue teams unnecessarily searching much larger areas because a detailed trip plan was not left.

Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?

Indeed! In the urban areas of Southern California I frequently encounter bobcats. On a recent trip to the Sierra Nevadas I ran into my first black bear! My hiking partners and I were camping at Whitney Portal, and went to bed early to get some rest in advance of our 17 hour hike the next day. We were all sleepless, anticipating the grueling 22-mile day hike of Mt. Whitney, and after a few hours of tossing and turning I was awakened by campers from the adjacent site shouting “Hey Hey!” Within just a few feet of my tent I could hear very a heavy lumbering noise of a large animal! I knew that it was a black bear, but decided to crawl a little deeper into my mummy sleeping bag and pretend a bear wasn’t right outside. Since I had done a thorough check for all scented items before going to bed and made sure they were all safely locked away in a bear box, I knew the bear would not have any inclination to coming inside my tent. So I went back to sleep and heard the stories the following day from the campers in the adjoining site. 🙂

If not previously mentioned, have you ever completed a thru-hike or multi-day backpacking trip and what nuggets of wisdom did you glean from it?

Pack light! Every unnecessary ounce will feel like an albatross around your neck, so make sure you focus on packing all of the essentials, and whenever possible find multiple uses for items. A bandanna is one piece of hiking gear that I have found lots of uses for.

What is your favourite outdoor website?

Of course I’m highly biased, but my site (HikingLady.com) is my favorite! That is where I share all my hiking and backpacking tips, as well as book and movie reviews, information on interesting outdoors and hiking events, environmental issues, organizations to join, and more. I also spend a lot of time reading other people’s hiking and outdoor adventure blogs, especially Tracks & Trails.

What is your favourite outdoor hiking gear store?

REI Their used gear sales are fantastic. Because of their generous return policy, I’ve been able to find slightly used boots, adventure apparel, trekking poles, and even backpacks and sleeping bags!

If you are a website administrator please add your url here.
hikinglady.com

Hiking Journey in Johannesburg - South Africa

In an effort to unravel hiking mysteries from afar, I contacted Marion Hüfner of the Johannesburg Hiking Club. The following interview provides a few insights into South Africa and Johannesburg hiking!

How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?
South Africa is a country for the outdoors so everybody gets out into the country as we have the most glorious weather.

What has been your favourite hiking trail or outdoor area?
The Otter trail in the Cape.  Last year we were in the Rockies and we did some beautiful day hikes there.

Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.
The Otter trail – seeing the beauty of the Cape and the whales whilst hiking along the rugged coastline.  The Rockies – Lake Louise/Lake Moraine – The Larch trail and seeing the countryside covered in these beautiful yellow Larch trees – fantastic.

Have you ever been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.
No never.

Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?
The Otter trail – snakes, otters, whales.   Rockies – mountain goats, many squirrels.

If not previously mentioned, have you ever completed a thru-hike or multi-day backpacking trip and what nuggets of wisdom did you glean from it?
The Fish River Canyon – water purifier is very important.  Do not take unnecessary items.

What is your favourite outdoor website?
Here I would obviously have to say the Johannesburg Hiking Club’s website.

What is your favourite outdoor hiking gear store?
This would have to be one of the stores which supports the Johannesburg Hiking Club – CapeStorm or Drifters

If you are a website administrator please add your url here. www.jhbhiking.org.za

Hiker, Backpacker, Trekker - Writer - Outdoor Legend - Meet Chris Townsend!


He is a living hiking legend! Hiker, backpacker, trekker and author, Chis Townsend has ample reason to be called a living legend. He has hiked thousands of kilometers in all corners of the globe including many long distance treks in North America such as the Pacific Coast Trail (Mexico to Canada) and the Continental Divide Trail. In addition to co-authoring several books and being the equipment editor of TGO Magazine, Chris shares his outdoor experiences in 17 books, of which most are illustrated with his own photographs. One of the favourites being the Backpackers Handbook

I am deeply grateful to Chris Townsend for taking the time to complete the following interview with Tracks And Trails . I specially liked the perfect camp experience as noted in the interview and your advice on why a backpacker needs a quality map when you were “Temporarily unsure of your whereabouts”. 🙂 – Thanks again Chris!

How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?

As a child in the countryside around the village of Formby on the Lancashire coast in northern England. Here I explored woods and fields, sand dunes and beaches, and grew to love nature and wild places. The area is flat – twenty foot sand dunes being the only hills – and certainly not wilderness but with enough woods and wildness to impress a young boy.

What has been your favourite outdoor recreations area?

Impossible to answer! There are so many. If I was forced to pick favourites I’d go for the High Sierra, the Grand Canyon and the Scottish Highlands which are all very different and offer contrasting experiences.

Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.

When I hiked the Arizona Trail I couldn’t predict the date on which I’d arrive at the Grand Canyon (I hate rigid itineraries anyway!) so I didn’t have a permit to camp in the Canyon, which I wanted to do. When I reached the South Rim I stood in line for one of the permits issued on the day, hoping one for one of the campgrounds on the Bright Angel or North Kaibab Trails. Unsurprisingly these were all taken. The ranger suggested going off on a side trail to where I could camp wild. This turned out to be a wonderful idea as it resulted in the finest camp of the whole hike. I left the popular routes shortly past Phantom Ranch and took the Clear Creek Trail as darkness fell. After several miles I stopped and simply laid my sleeping bag down away from the trail on a flat patch of stony ground. All around dark cliffs rose into the star-filled sky. The silence was immense. Dawn came with the sun slowly lighting up the multi-coloured rocks as the vastness of the Canyon was revealed. I would not have wanted to be anywhere else. It was a glorious morning.

Have you ever experienced a wilderness medical emergency or been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.

I dislike the word “lost”. “Temporarily unsure of my whereabouts” sounds much better! On my walk the length of the Canadian Rockies I did spend a week when I couldn’t have found my position on a map to within twenty miles. But I knew that as long as I walked northwards I would eventually hit a road and I duly did so, feeling very relieved as I’d been out of food for several days. What I learnt was to have decent maps. My supply box had failed to arrive and I’d only been able to get small scale black and white maps locally. I should have gone to a bigger town and bought proper topo maps. Still, it made for an interesting experience.

Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?

I don’t think any of my encounters with animals are unique but many are memorable and important to me. My first meeting with a grizzly bear is still sharp in my mind 22 years later. I was above timberline in the Canadian Rockies on a rainy day, hiking with my hood up and head down and not paying enough attention to my surroundings when I caught a movement off to one side. I looked up and saw a grizzly bear coming towards me. I’d never seen a grizzly before but I was in no doubt. This dwarfed the black bears I’d encountered. I moved along the trail, made a noise and the bear turned away and disappeared into some brush. So nothing really happened. But I was thrilled just to see one of these magnificent animals in its natural habitat.

If not previously mentioned, have you ever completed a thru-hike or multi-day backpacking trip and what nuggets of wisdom did you glean from it?

I’ve completed many long-distance trips. What I’ve learnt is that there’s a qualitative as well as a quantative difference between a short trip – a month or less – and a long one. A short trip is a break from everyday life, a long trip becomes every day. Hiking and camping is what you do, day after day, week after week, month after month. And this means that the mechanics of living in the wilds become automatic so you can experience nature more deeply without concerns over practicalities getting in the way.

What is your favourite outdoor website?

www.tgomagazine.co.uk. I’m biased here as I write for TGO. I’ll also mention www.backpackinglight.com. And admit another bias as I’ve written for that site as well.

What is your favourite outdoor hiking gear store?

On the web it’s backpackinglight.co.uk. In bricks and mortar it’s Mountain Spirit and Cairngorm Mountain Sports in Aviemore in the Cairngorms, which are the nearest to my home.

Please visit Chris Townsend’s Blog

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Thanks again for the interview Mr. Townsend! Not wanting to abandon your years of wisdom and thousands of miles of experience with just this interview, I have purchased my first Chris Townsend book, Backpacker’s Pocket Guide
. While I am an avid hiker, searching through the viewable pages online, I realized that even I need to review the basics of hiking and backpacking and glean any nuggets of your wisdom and share them with any backpacking companions.