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Hiking my own hike, on a 3-month thru-hike of the AT in 2002. But doing it "the wrong way," with gear, supplies, and skills that were inappropriate for my trip objective and the conditions.

Actually, there is a “right way” to backpack: The limits of “hike your own hike”

One interaction I distinctly recall from the Appalachian Trail was in Virginia, with a fellow thru-hiker who was outwardly critical of my approach. I had been moving at a relatively quick clip, in the hopes of finishing the entire trail in about three months, before the start of my fall semester. “You’re hiking too fast […]

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A rolled rock at 11,500 feet in the Colorado Rockies. To dig a cathole in this hardpan, you'd need a 5-lb pick mattock.

How to poop in the outdoors || Part 2: Digging catholes & rolling rocks

The first step in pooping in the outdoors is finding a good location. Site selection was discussed in-depth in Part 1. But to quickly refresh, high quality pooping spots will be: At least 200 feet away from water, Inconspicuous, Biologically rich, and Conducive to a cathole. The next step is creating a hole. Notice my use of […]

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Like a bear hang, a perfect cathole is easier to draw than to execute in the field.

How to poop in the outdoors || Part 1: Site selection

Like real estate, pooping outdoors is all about location, location, location. Conventional wisdom mostly skips over this aspect, and puts more emphasis on the cathole — you know, the perfect 8-inch pit that, like the perfect bear hang, is much easier to draw than to accomplish in the field. By finding a good pooping location, more liberties […]

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My group foot care kit for hiking and backpacking. For solo trips, I carry fewer items and less of each item.

Gear List || Backpacking Foot Care Kit for blisters & maceration

How many hiking and backpacking trips have been set back, or even ruined, by blisters, maceration, and other podiatric problems? Quite a few — including some of mine, unfortunately. To minimize these issues, I carry a dedicated foot care kit. I consider it a separate entity than my backpacking first aid kit. It contains several […]

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How-to || Pack a backpack: Load distribution, organization, waterproofing, & canisters

When packing my backpack, I have two primary goals: Minimize its effect on my center of gravity, and Keep oft-needed items easily accessible so that I can hike uninterrupted. I’ll start by discussing these goals in-depth. Then, I will address special considerations like bear canisters and backpack styles. Center of gravity When not wearing a […]

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Cold Spring Shelter, May 2002

Five-star campsites || Part 4: Four examples of classically bad campsites

In the previous two posts I discussed the ideal features of backpacking campsites, on both a zone- and spot-level. There are many of them, probably too many to remember. So in this final installment I will discuss four classically bad campsites. Despite having multiple and severe problems, I regularly see backpackers camping in these types of locations. If […]

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