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Thought it impossible: Wildfires close 140 miles of the Appalachian Trail

By Andrew Skurka / December 3, 2016 / 2 Comments

Along the Pacific Crest and Continental Divide Trails, closures and fire bans are considered normal, especially after dry winters or late in the summer. Ditto for other long trails through arid or semi-arid environments like the Arizona Trail or Colorado Trail. But I considered such trail closures impossible on the Appalachian Trail, which is nicknamed “The Green Tunnel”…

Repeating myself: Section-hike (don’t thru-hike) the Wind River High Route

By Andrew Skurka / October 3, 2016 / 0 Comments

The Wind River High Route is world-class and represents a “best of” backcountry experience in one of the wildest mountain ranges in the country. A similar statement could be made about the Sierra High Route, Kings Canyon High Basin Route, and Glacier Divide Route. A thru-hike of any one of these routes is likely to be a lifetime memory. But for nearly everyone,…

A backpacking gear list: Its importance and core functions

By Andrew Skurka / September 30, 2016 / 1 Comment

On a trip planning checklist, what’s the most time-consuming task? Making travel plans, preparing food, selecting a route — yes, they can all rank up there. But gear selection probably tops the list, especially for new backpackers and for veteran backpackers without experience in a particular location or season. A gear list will make this process much easier, for current…

Permit directory: Wilderness & backcountry camping in the Sierra Nevada

By Andrew Skurka / September 30, 2016 / 2 Comments

The Sierra Nevada mountains are world-class, encompassing two National Parks (Yosemite and Sequoia-Kings), the John Muir Trail, and a half-dozen Wilderness Areas like Desolation, Golden Trout, and Emigrant. The heart of the range extends from the Kern River in the south, to Lake Tahoe in the north. Backcountry use is accordingly significant, by residents of…

Notes for next time: Gear, logistics, & snow travel || Glacier Divide Route

By Andrew Skurka / July 31, 2016 / 10 Comments

For my next trip on the Glacier Divide Route, what should I remember from this past one? Logistics The drive to Glacier National Park from Colorado is intimidating — about 15 hours, depending on the final destination. But it wasn’t terrible, and it’s eye-opening to know that I can reach Glacier in 1.5 days even if I’m…

Not reverse psychology: Don’t thru-hike the Wind River High Route

By Andrew Skurka / March 9, 2016 / 5 Comments

“Rudd, Nathan, and I are planning to thru-hike the Wind River High Route this summer,” announced Krishna, as we dug into monstrous burritos at Cafe Mexicali. Krishna was one of my first clients, and he had swung through Boulder while driving back to the Tri-State Area after a month-long ski and work trip in Silverton.…

My most popular & favorite posts of 2015

By Andrew Skurka / December 31, 2015 / 0 Comments

To close out 2015, I’d like to share my most popular posts. My method in creating the list was only partially scientific — I started with total page views for 2015 in Google Analytics, and then I loosely accounted for publishing dates, since posts released earlier in the year have had more time to be viewed than those released…

The future of CalTopo || Interview with founder Matt Jacobs

By Andrew Skurka / November 1, 2015 / 19 Comments

For several years my go-to platform for topographical maps and imagery has been CalTopo. It has fully replaced — and far surpassed — National Geographic’s TOPO! desktop software, which was discontinued in 2012 and is no longer supported by NG; and, overall, its trip-planning features are unmatched by other online platforms and apps. I use CalTopo most often…

Planning a high route? Three critical mental adjustments.

By Andrew Skurka / July 31, 2015 / 23 Comments

Within the backpacking community I have sensed increasing interest in “high routes,” such as the the Sierra High Route, Wind River Range High Route, and Kings Canyon High Basin Route. I think this concept will continue to expand, with most of the emphasis on “route” rather than “high,” since there are thematically similar opportunities in…

Notes for next time: Gear, supplies, food & logistics

By Andrew Skurka / July 28, 2015 / 34 Comments

An assortment of takeaways from my Kings Canyon High Basin Route thru-hike earlier this month. They are mostly a reminder for me, but maybe they’ll have some value for you, too. If any prompt a question, leave a comment. Gear Pack weight. Take a handheld digital scale to the trailhead for a final weigh-in of all gear, supplies, and food. This…