Return Of The Dana!

In the mid-90', Dana Design was the backpack for thru-hikers on the Appalachian Trail.  I liked mine so much that I bought a second one two years after my thru-hike despite the steep price of $400+And Dana Gleason, founder of his namesake Dana Designs, has returned to the market!  After selling his company and watching a series of outdoor companies fumble with a once dominant brand - Dana is back (and so is the Terraplane).The U.S. Military and U.S. Forest Service "hot shot" fire-fighting crews have been the beneficiary of Dana's skills over the last few years - but the packs are once again available to the public.  There is a great article about this at GearJunkie.com, and hopefully I can land a … [Read more...]

Preparing for your next hike? Don’t forget these apps!

Hiking is a great physical and leisure activity that can be enjoyed by people of varying fitness levels. Statista documented there is currently 34.38 million active hikers in the U.S. alone, demonstrating the popularity of this outdoor activity as a pastime. But whether you are an experienced hiker that has an impeccable sense of direction and dependable instincts, there are still several mobile apps that you should consider downloading before your next adventure. Smartphones are the compasses of the 21st century. Owners and operators of mobile casino brand PocketFruity revealed that there were one billion smartphone users by the end of 2012, a number that’s said to surpass the two billion mark in 2016. The explosion in smartphone … [Read more...]

A Thru-Hiker Looks At 20

It’s been 20 years since I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail.  There’s no doubt, it was a different Trail back then – fewer thru-hikers, no cell phones, and no websites to research the A.T. prior to heading out.  Thru-hikers today are better informed, better connected, and significantly better prepared than when I hiked in 1994.  That said, here are some tips for the Class of 2015 as you start the A.T. this Spring:     Create, then ditch your itinerary. It’s fun to plan an itinerary and anticipate where you will be during your thru-hike. You should do it - but don’t live by it.  Schedules are for the workingman.  I had the most fun on the Trail when I ditched my itinerary and rolled with the Trail … [Read more...]

Leaving Las Vegas ….

There is nothing better than escaping a trade show in Las Vegas for the backcountry and fresh air of Zion National Park. After a 3 hour drive Fuller and I arrive in Springdale, UT and stay a short distance from the park. Our first mission is to hike the Hidden Canyon Trail. We climb 850 feet and link up with a steel chain that guides us around a cliff with an insanely sharp drop off.  It is at this point that I remember that I might have a slight fear of heights.And to make things more interesting, we round a corner and see the Trail covered in ice.  Hmmm - better hold on to that chain!     I try not to look down - because damn it's a long way to the valley floor.  Get me off this … [Read more...]

Baxter State Park Needs Federal Funding, And Soon!

There are four times the number of Appalachian Trail thru-hikers hiking and camping in Baxter State Park than there were 20 years ago - when I did my hike.  According to Jensen Bissell, Director of Baxter State Park, this is straining resources.   "From the perspective of Baxter Park, we are concerned that the use of Baxter Park is nearing or has surpassed an acceptable limit for the facilities and effort available from the Park to accomodate A.T. hikers"    A letter to ATC Executive Director, Ron Tiptop, lays out the current issues - many of which focus on thru-hikers that overwhelm park resources and occasionally don't follow the rules of Baxter Park (ie. no public consumption of alchohol or drugs, camping … [Read more...]

#7 Listen to music

Just read an article at Appalachian Trials on "9 Things A Former Thru-Hiker Wishes She Had Known Before Hitting The Trail".  And what was on the list?   My personal favorite.... #7 Listen to music: " It will help keep you positive in the present as you hike and afterwards the music you listened to will become a time machine back to exact moments on the trail. You may not know the place or even the state but the song will bring back a perfectly rendered memory. " Many go in to the woods to leave technology behind.  Yet I work in technology, and I promise you that when I go in to the woods there's nothing more that I want to do than leave technology behind. But when you are hiking ~ 2200 miles to Maine - it's a long, … [Read more...]

Relying Too Much On Technology On The Trail

Here's an interesting article about over reliance on technology on the Trail.  From Glacier National Park and reported by the Magic City Morning Star:    "I don't know what to do," she said several times. And that, of course, was the problem. They were strangers in this strange land of "no cell service." No texts. No calls. No contact. And while the manager offered her options, the girl's reaction got me thinking. This almost teenager wasn't prepared to handle even a slight deviation from the easy contact comfort of technology. What would she have done in a real crisis?   … [Read more...]

Walk In The Woods Filming Begins

Passionate about the Appalachain Trail?  Live in the Southeast (particularly in Atlanta or North Georgia)?  Then this is your big chance to hang with Rob and Nick - they just started filming a Walk In The Woods based on Bill Bryson's A.T. memoir.   The movie is due for release in November 2015, and filming at The Lodge in Amicalola State Park began on 4/22/14.  Extra's casting is reportedly underway per this article in the Gainesville Times, and if your not the Trail Hard type - there's scenes being shot in Atlanta which explains why Robert Redford keeps showing up at Davio's in Phipps Plaza in Buckhead. This is the second major Hollywood film production in the last two years that highlights a thru-hikers journey on a … [Read more...]

Now you can smell like the Trail when you are off the Trail….

Some very clever marketing by the Appalachain Trail Conference.  This is actually a fundraiser for the Appalachian Trail. Very creative ATC.  Well done!   … [Read more...]

Spring Hiking On The Benton MacKaye …

After a unseasonably cool winter, the weather finally broke and we decided to take the kids out for an overnight hike.    We did this one on a Friday night to avoid conflicts with spring sports and with spring break.  Here we are at the parking area at Three Forks on the Appalachian Trail. The dog is more excited than anyone and is hauling his own food, water, sleeping bag and sleeping pad.  All in - the dog's pack weighs about 8 lbs - nearly the same weight as my empty (and aging) Dana Design backpack! Here we are climbing to Long Creek Falls along the A.T. and headed northbound.  The trail is nice and wide in this area and it is a pleasant walk to the waterfall and junction with the Benton MacKaye Trail. There is … [Read more...]