American Long Distance Hiking Association - West

  • 09 Feb 2017 11:12 AM | Kate Hoch (Administrator)

    by Paul Magnanti

    Many experienced three-season backpackers tend to hibernate in the winter. They’ll buy new gear, tweak their Excel spreadsheet, discuss which backpacking stove or wind shirt is the best, and upload to Instagram all the photos from earlier outings. But there is something better than buying gear and talking about it.

    The something better? Getting out into the backcountry and embracing the fourth season. Go winter backpacking. Hike those paths. Snowshoe among the trees, and glide through a blanket of snow while on skis. Winter is not a time to stay inside and talk about things you have done. Winter is a time to have new backcountry experiences. Going out into the backcountry, seeing the mountains covered in snow and feeling the cold, bracing air is sublime. Get out there. And enjoy.


    Why Winter Backpack? 

    Besides the beauty that is found in winter, there are many reasons to backpack in the fourth season.

    Fewer people.
    No insects.
    Food does not go bad.
    The everyday trail you’ve hiked many times becomes magical and new.
    It will keep you in shape for three-season backpacking.
    Because life is too short to give up a quarter or more of the calendar year


    Gear for winter backpacking

    It is a bit of a misnomer that specialized gear and clothing are needed for winter backpacking, at least for initial forays. Stay below tree-line in lower elevation areas with a lesser amount of snow for your first outings.

    Some of your three-season gear that can do double duty in winter:

    Those old leather boots you may only use for trail work now? Treat with SnoSeal or similar, wear with some wool socks, bread bags, and liner socks, and you have some surprisingly effective winter footwear for an overnight trip.

    Couple a twenty-degree quilt with your forty-degree summer quilt and combine a NeoAir or similar with a closed cell foam such as a RidgeRest and you have a sleeping system that can go down to zero degrees or so Fahrenheit.

    A shelter with steeper walls can shed light snow. Save the four season shelters for higher elevation jaunts or more inclement weather when you gain some experience.

    A simple balaclava and a fleece beanie covers a wide range of cold weather conditions

    Thermals, wind pants, and a wind shirt do very well in cold weather when moving. A rain jacket is fine for when a hardshell is needed.

    An alcohol stove works well enough for a quick overnighter when there is no snowmelt needed. Keep the fuel warm in your sleeping bag. Mushers use alcohol stoves on the Iditarod after all.

    Don’t have a true winter down coat (five ounces or more of down fill)? Your three-season puffy with a 200 and 100 weight fleece will be a little heavier and bulky, but you will be able to get out there and stay warm!

    As you start to enjoy more winter backpacking, you can purchase more winter specific gear such as a four-season tent, a winter weight down parka, skis or snowshoes, a white gas stove, etc.

    Want to learn more? I have a more thorough primer on winter backpacking at my website.

    The main point is to get out there first and enjoy, however. Much how you probably started backpacking in the first place!


  • 31 Jan 2017 11:10 AM | Bob Turner (Administrator)

    How to Meet Your Next (Hiking) Partner/ A Love Note to My Hiking Partner

    by Liz “Snorkel” Thomas

    Last winter, I had a dream of hiking the Great Divide Trail through Canada but was not interested in going alone. On a trail riddled with grizzlies, glacial fords, and extensive bushwhacking, I wanted a partner to laugh through the good times and cry through the bad. The problem was, who could I sign up to seriously consider doing a trip like this? How would I find someone with the skills and experience necessary for such a hard hike?

    The short answer was I found the perfect hiking partner at the ALDHA-West Ruck. At ALDHA-West events, there are plenty of folks from all over the region and country who “get” long distance hiking. They’re dedicated to long trails. Unlike your flaky non-hiker friends, ALDHA-West event attendees make hiking happen—not just talk about it. ALDHA-West event attendees know what it means to save money and make time for walking.


    I’d met Naomi a few times before but didn’t really know her that well before the 2016’s ALDHA-West Rucking season. After bringing the idea up to her at the Cascade Ruck (admittedly, over many beers), I brought it up again a month later when I saw her at the Colorado Ruck (admittedly, over many glasses of wine).

    The GDT had been on Naomi’s list, but like me, she didn’t want to go alone. Despite living in the hiker-filled Pacific Northwest, hunting down someone willing to commit to the GDT isn’t easy. Instead, she found a partner in someone who lives 1,000 miles away: me. The Rucks were a great opportunity to talk trail, logistics, and feel each other out as hiking partners before committing. I like to compare it to taking your pooch to a dog park. We sniffed each other out and got a feel for the other’s hiking style. I must have passed the sniff test because several weeks later, she sent me an email saying she was in.

    Naomi and I held several planning meetings on the phone, got together maps, figured out resupply, gear lists, and booked our transportation. We agreed to meet in Kalispell, Montana and take care of our last-minute logistics the day before. She picked me up with my 40-pound box of hiker food. The next day, we went to an Office Max to buy boxes to ship our resupplies. And then, I knew I had made the best choice ever.


    As our Altras hit the linoleum of that Big Box store, it was as if we were a marching band. The click of our footsteps on the ground was timed perfectly. Our pace was identical.

    Despite the weather, grizzly, and bushwhacking the trail threw at us, the trip was a complete success. I learned we share a foodie’s love for fine dining while hiking and a fondness for nice soap. I always had faith in her ability, strength, and skill.

    If you’re looking for the perfect hiking partner, the ALDHA-W Rucks are a great way to gather with your local hiking community, meet people from afar, and talk trail. Who knows? Maybe you’ll strike gold and find someone worth spending a hundred miles with.


  • 24 Jan 2017 4:36 PM | Bob Turner (Administrator)

    Hiker Talk

    This segment of the Gazette, allows members to respond with a simple one word/one sentence answer to a question which they are presented. Answers should be accompanied with a headshot photo - a mug shot will do in a pinch... If you have a burning question you would like to put out to the hiking community, please send it to: editor@aldhawest.org

     

    Today's question:  "What aspect of being outdoors or hiking are you still afraid of?"  

     

    Jan "Pooh-Bear" Barlow:  Leaving the trail and going back to reality.


    Todd Blackley:  Weather


    Linda "Blue Butterfly" Bakkar:  Hitching to town.  

    Felicia "Princess of Darkness" Hermosillo: Grizzlies 

     

  • 19 Jan 2017 11:03 AM | Kate Hoch (Administrator)

    by Charles Baker

    The Ozarks are a beautiful and rugged region, known for mountain vistas, folk culture and running streams. The vast and rugged slopes and tributaries of the Ozarks are home to many legends. The forests are mainly hardwood with stands of pine – Spring hiking delivers serviceberry, redbuds and dogwoods painting the landscape in pinks and whites. Fall hiking offers up color and much beauty. If you enjoy photographing wildflowers and wildlife, the variety of both will provide hours of entertainment. Of the animals which call this area home, there are about 320 species of birds, 75 species of mammals and 125 species of amphibians and reptiles. Some may think they need to go to the ends of the earth to see wondrous, exotic landscapes, but they are here in the heart of the Missouri Ozarks. It contains the Earth’s largest collection of giant springs, each with a daily flow of more than 65 million gallons of water. If you camp along the Current River, you may catch sight of wild horses descending from the forest for a morning drink. After dark, expect a coyote chorus and the “who cooks for you” hoot of barred owls.

    Glade Coneflower

    Rather than having section numbers or point-to-point names, the Ozark Trail utilizes section names. Multiple land managers originally formed the Ozark Trail Council, each having responsibility for a section of the trail. In some cases, they used existing trails, so the existing trail names became the section names. The popular Karkaghne section, with a difficulty rating of “moderate,” is a 29-mile-long, mainly side-slope trail, running just below the ridge-tops and named from a mythical creature in forest folklore – “The Ozark Howler.”

    “Purported to live,” was enough motivation for my clan to hit the trails and search for this beast. Commonly described as being bear sized with a thick body, stocky legs, black shaggy hair, glowing eyes, and sometimes having horns. The description of its cry is said to be a combination of a wolf’s howl and an elk’s bugle. For parts of the OT, you are trekking through the Mark Twain National Forest, not far from our home. So off we went in search of Ozark Howler sign.

    Day hiking with a purpose 

     Big dog recommended for “Howler” hunting

    The OT has over 390 miles of trails plus numerous spurs. Link up with its cousin, the Ozark Highland Trail, in Arkansas, and you have a 700-mile trek. The OT has thirteen, mostly joined sections. The Ozark Trail Council makes the determination of the trail route. The Council consists of seven agencies – the National Forest Service, the Missouri State Parks Department, the Missouri Conservation Commission, plus several environmental groups and one (large) private land owner. In 2008, the OT received the designation of a National Recreation Trail.

    The creation of the Ozark Trail Association happened in 2002. As the trail advocate, the OTA has service projects and events almost year-round. They are planning an event, May 6, 2017, “The Ozark Trail Challenge Hike,” which sounds like a blast. For more information, please visit their website: www.ozarktrail.com. The site is very active and offers trail and planning support.

    A "Howler” den – we think…

    Space alien bones! A “Howler” den for sure.

    Whether looking for a day, section, through hike, or maybe a 100-Mile point to point endurance run, the OT provides plenty of diversity and challenge. The trail crosses parts of these public lands:

    * Eleven Point National Wild and Scenic River

    * Johnson’s Shut-ins State Park

    * Mark Twain National Forest

    * Onondaga Cave State Park

    * Ozark National Scenic Riverways

    * Roger Prior Pioneer Backcountry

    * Sam A. Baker State Park

    * Taum Sauk Mountain State Park

    Just look for the green and white trail signs.


    And always remember, the OT may have its own brand of “trail magic.”


  • 10 Jan 2017 12:27 PM | Bob Turner (Administrator)

    This issue of the Gazette's "Sponsor Spotlight" features Renee “She-ra” Patrick, co-owner of hikertrash, one of ALDHA-West’s sponsoring gear companies. We asked Renee a few questions about hikertrash so that we can get to know them better. If you have any additional questions for Renee, please leave a comment.


     1.  Please give a brief description of your company.  What products do you sell?  How did you decide which products to specialize in?  How long have you been doing this?

    "Hikertrash began in the trashiest way possible, no really! Back in 2009, I decided to teach myself how to screenprint. So I went to Goodwill and found an old picture frame and sheer curtain that I could make into a cheap, homemade screen. I got some emulsion from Michaels, and using my boyfriend's bathroom, coated and cured my first screen, which I then set in the sun to burn the image of a tall bike I had created in the photo-sensitive screen. It didn't work.

    From there I bought professional screens and had more success with the next set of bike designs, and the first version of hikertrash.

    "I would find clothing at thrift stores to print on and primarily made things for my thru-hiker friends. When friend and fellow thru-hiker, Brian Frankle, suggested we see if other people wanted to buy hikertrash items, we started the company in early 2014.

    "Fast forward almost three years, and we sell a variety of shirts, hats and other items. I also like to take my screenprinting press (handmade from 95% recycled materials) to events like PCT Days to do some live screen printing for those hikers passing through.

    "I don't print everything myself anymore, but have a couple of local print shops help us create our items."


    2.  If you were to play "futurist" in your industry, what would

    you predict?  Materials, design, market, etc.

    "The future of thru-hiking related companies will probably only grow. With the recent increase in popularity in long distance hiking, thanks to those movies (you know which ones), more people are hitting the trails, and other larger gear companies are starting to react to the trend. Once just a fringe sport, thru-hiking is now getting recognized as a way to inspire people, and sell products. While I think our hikertrash community will grow, it's now more crucial than ever to support the trails that made us, so it's important to us to give back. Five percent of our online sales go back to the customer's choice of triple crown long distance trail organizations (and the Oregon Desert Trail cause that's my job!)."


    3. Favorite beer?

    "Trail magic beer."


    4. Favorite hike?

    "The one I haven't done yet."


    Renee “She-ra” Patrick

    hikertrash



    Thank-you Renee “She-ra” Patrick, from hikertrash for answering our questions and thanks also go out to members Lawton “Disco” Grinter and Mike Unger for the great interview questions.

    If you would like to join in the fun and submit questions we can ask our great sponsors, please send them to - editor@aldhawest.org.


  • 03 Jan 2017 6:34 PM | Bob Turner (Administrator)

    President’s Letter January 2017

    Greetings ALDHA-West Members,

    I am excited as I write this letter, as 2017 is shaping up to be a fantastic year for our growing organization.  Before I delve into this upcoming year, let’s first reflect on 2016 and all our accomplishments.  As many of you are aware, in April of 2016, I left to thru-hike the Continental Divide Trail.  While I was off having the time of my life, a vacuum in leadership existed that needed to be filled.  Luckily for me and all of you, Vice President Elizabeth “Snorkel” Thomas stepped in for me in my absence and rallied the board to keep things going while I was away.  Through the hard work of all involved, we once again successfully completed the task at hand.  My biggest heartfelt thanks go out to “Snorkel” and the rest of our board during that time, personally, I want to say thank you to them for a job well done.

    Some highlights of 2016 are as follows:

    * We held our 3 Rucks in Idaho, Oregon, and Colorado between February and March.  These events helped over 200 people prepare for the 2016 hiking season and also served as mini Gatherings in local areas for hikers to meet during the offseason.  If you haven’t attended a Ruck in the past few years, I encourage you to do so.  Having experienced hikers on hand is a great way for newcomers to the world of long distance hiking to gain helpful insight and feel welcomed when on trail.

    * PCT Days in August celebrated its 10th anniversary and once again ALDHA-West was a headliner of the event working with Outdoor Viewfinder and PCTA to put on a great event celebrating the PCT.  We benefited from the raffle and added over $2,000 to our bank account to help keep things running.  Make sure to mark your calendar for August 18-20th for this year’s PCT Days in Cascade Locks.

    * The Gathering at Camp Augusta in Nevada City was a huge success and one of the best Gatherings yet.  Besides our usual fun and games, this year we had a new twist on “Hiker Olympics” with an obstacle course race wearing the infamous “Flextrek 37 Trillion Whipsnake.”  You can learn more about the pack here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAtzN_ScKXY.  Other highlights were the speaker line up which left us in awe, the induction of a new class of “Triple Crowners,” and the presentation of the “Martin Papendick Award” to the Andersons.

    * Lastly one big shout out to TarpTent, who helped us out by sponsoring the Gathering's Saturday Night ALOHA-West Luau Out.

    While 2016 found us as a bitterly divided Country with a very contentious election year, one thing it proved to me was how unifying hiking could be.  In my time on the trail in 2016, I was met with warmth and kindness by all sorts of people and hikers with various views.  One thing we all agreed on was how great taking a long walk in the woods can be.  2017 is looking like it could be an interesting time for public lands, with various people in Washington taking new roles and pushing an agenda to try to privatize public lands or turn the long-standing federal land over to States.  Our trails and wild spaces need you now more than ever.

    At the Gathering, we voted as an organization to adopt a new set of by-laws and change our status from a 501c7 to 501c3 non-profit organization.  The paperwork has been completed and is being reviewed by the IRS, so hopefully in the next few weeks, we will officially be a 501c3.  As part of our new direction, we are hoping to advocate more.  Not just for hikers, but also for protecting the places hikers use, to ensure they are protected for future generations to hike and explore America’s long trails.  I hope when we send out a “call to action” you will take the time to contact your Congressperson or Senator to let them know you care about these places and ask them to protect them.

    2017 is not just about advocacy, all of us on the board are working hard behind the scenes to get ready for this year and our extensive lineup of events.  I hope we will see you at these events this year and we would love your help volunteering if you have time.   I think one of the most exciting events in 2017 will be hosting the Gathering in Colorado for the first time ever.  After years of having our event on the West Coast we felt it was time to be more inclusive to our ever-growing member base in the Rockies.  After voting for the change in 2015, we are happy to announce the Gathering will be held at Keystone Science School Sept 29-Oct 1, 2017.  I can’t wait to be in Colorado this Fall to celebrate the end of hiking season with all of you, until then we are hosting four Rucks this year to be held in California, Oregon, Idaho, and Colorado, along with PCT Days in August.  Please visit our events calendar for more information on each event or to become a volunteer.

    I hope you all enjoy this New Year and are busy this winter making this year’s hiking plans become a reality.  Thank you, members, for your continued support this past year and make sure to thank your Board for their hard work going forward in 2017.

    Happy Trails,
    Whitney “Allgood” LaRuffa
    President ALDHA-West



  • 13 Dec 2016 9:44 AM | Kate Hoch (Administrator)

    by Aria Zoner

    If you're like me, you can never get your fill when it comes to soaking in hot springs. Why is that? What it is about hot springs that is so appealing? Some say it's a mystery, others say "It's just cause they feel good"!

    In designing The Hot Springs Trail, I realized that not all hot springs are created equal and that you don't always need a big pool to have an amazing experience. I also realized that beyond the quality, quantity, and temperature of the water – the environment around the spring must also be considered. Is there a nice view from the water? Is there pleasant camping, friendly locals, and abundant wildlife nearby? Can I get NAKED? I consider all of this when selecting my best soaks.

    Diving in, it's important to point out that there are 3 main types of hot springs on The Hot Springs Trail.

    1. Hikers on this 2,421-mile adventure will have a chance to visit 7 commercial hot spring resorts. These aren't the fancy Palm Springs style resorts; but rather, are backcountry lodges that serve meals and accept resupply packages. Among the best of these is the Red River Hot Springs Resort, located in Idaho on the edge of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness area.

    Red River Hot Springs Resort - IdahoRed River Hot Springs Resort - Idaho

    2. On the other end of the hot springs spectrum are wild hot springs. Although not as reliable as resorts, wild hot springs still offer a nice opportunity to soak. Sheepeater Hot Springs, deep in the Frank Church Wilderness, is about as wild as it gets...next to Marten Hot Spring that is. Just to the north of Sheepeater, and 22 miles from the nearest road, Marten Hot Spring may be the most remote hot spring in the US. *Important update for The Hot Springs Trail Official Guidebook - The Marten Creek Trail, approaching Marten Hot Spring, was cleared this year and has been re-opened. This improvement eliminated the need to approach it from above by going XC.

    Wild soaking on The Hot Springs Trail - Sheepeater Hot Springs, IdahoWild soaking on The Hot Springs Trail - Sheepeater Hot Springs, Idaho

    3. The third type of hot springs on this trail are semi-developed wild hot springs. With headrests, drains, and temperature controls. In my opinion, these are some of the best soaks.

    Semi-developed Wild Hot Spring - Big Caliente Hot Springs, CaliforniaSemi-developed Wild Hot Spring - Big Caliente Hot Springs, California

    The Hot Springs Trail ends as any hot spring soak should, with a cold plunge! This final dip is enjoyed when you get to the border of Canada, at the lovely Priest Falls.

    Interested in becoming a thru-soaker? Learn more about this trail by visiting www.thehotspringstrail.com.



  • 06 Dec 2016 4:16 PM | Kate Hoch (Administrator)

    By: Mary "Fireweed" Kwart

    Love trees? Love a scavenger hunt challenge? Covering 360 miles in Northern California and southern Oregon, through 6 wilderness areas, 1 national park and 1 state park, you can traverse little known wilderness in northern California and hike all the way to the Pacific ocean, ending at a lighthouse that has been continuously staffed since the 1850's, while encountering 32 species of conifers.

    -- Shasta fir, Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness, N. CalifShasta fir, Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness, N. Calif

    Scavenger hunting for the 32 conifers that earmark the Klamath-Siskiyou Region as a World Heritage site and one of the most diverse conifer tree species havens in the US adds a unique hiking challenge. Guided by Bigfoot Trail founder Michael Kauffmann's 'Conifers of the Pacific Slope' and the Bigfoot Trail Guide (downloadable online at www.bigfoottrail.org), you can plan your hike every night on the trail, plotting what new conifer you need to be looking for the next day. Some trees are plentiful: you can be walking through groves of stately Shasta fir, Sugar pine and Mountain hemlock. Others exist in secretive enclaves you have to seek out next to high elevation lakes--like the graceful Pacific silver fir near Diamond Lake in the Marble Mountain Wilderness. Relic species at the southernmost tip of their range will surprise you, like when you whip out a monocular and spy remnant Alaska Yellow-cedars down a drainage just north of the Boundary Trail in far northern California's Red Buttes Wilderness, knowing that these small trees are either the pioneers or the remnant stragglers of their species, beating a hasty retreat from climate change or adapting to it.

    Camp under Port Orford Cedars, Little Bald Hills, Redwood National Park, N. CalifCamp under Port Orford Cedars, Little Bald Hills, Redwood National Park, N. Calif

    You can also encounter trees you may be familiar with from other hikes in California's Sierra Nevada mountains or in Colorado's Rocky Mountains, like Foxtail pine in the Trinity Alps Wilderness and Engelmann spruce in the Russian Wilderness. An Engelmann spruce giant lies off the trail, hidden in groves of more populous species. You are guided by hints from the Bigfoot Trail Guide to discover it.

    Redwood, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, N. CalifRedwood, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, N. Calif

    And, by the time you reach the Russian Wilderness, about 160 miles into your hike if you start in the Yolla Bolly Wilderness, you will be primed to marvel at the 'Miracle Mile', where 18 conifer species crowd together, the meeting place of trees common in many adjoining ecosystems. Yet, looking at a blended line of modest, un-showy conifer crowns silhouetted against a blue sky, you still have to check your tree guide to identify individual species. In the Red Buttes Wilderness, the Grand Champion Incense-cedar grows next to Tannen Lake.

    Conifers along the Miracle Mile in the Russian Wilderness, N. Calif.Conifers along the "Miracle Mile" in the Russian Wilderness, N. Calif.

    The crown jewel of the hike after traversing miles of dry forest is trekking through coastal Redwood groves with their associated ferns and rainy climate tree species, like Port Orford-cedar and Western hemlock. Identifying your last conifer (Shore pine) only a mile from the trail's end at Battery Point Lighthouse, which is perched on a spit of land jutting out into the Pacific Ocean west of Crescent City, California, you consult your tide table to make sure you can complete the last 300 feet of the trail that will be covered with ocean during high tide. You've finished the Bigfoot Trail!

    Western Juniper, Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness, N. CalifWestern Juniper, Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness, N. Calif

  • 30 Nov 2016 12:43 PM | Bob Turner (Administrator)

    This issue of the Gazette's "Sponsor Spotlight" features Henry Shires, co-owner of Tarptent, one of ALDHA-West’s sponsoring gear companies. We asked Henry a few questions about Tarptent so that we can get to know them better. If you have any additional questions for Henry, please leave a comment.

    1. Please give a brief description of your company. What products do you sell? How did you decide which products to specialize in? How long have you been doing this?

    Tarptent specializes in lightweight shelters. We officially opened Tarptent.com in April, 2002 but I started making gear as far back as
    1998. The first shelters were engineered, floor-less arch and trekking pole supported hybrid tarp structures with full bug protection. As the years went by more and more people asked for floors so about 10 years ago we moved to fully enclosed shelters with bathtub flooring.

    We currently offer 14 different models and several more are in the hopper. We offer single wall, double wall, trekking pole, and arch pole shelters for 1-4 people.

    We are California based and proudly manufacture everything in Seattle, Washington.

    2. Who do you see as your market? How do you reach these folks?

    We are a direct-to-consumer company and we ship all over the world. We also have some dealers in Europe and Asia. We have grown organically over the years almost exclusively through word of mouth and Internet searches. Over the last couple of years we have started to build our social media presence and look to engage other markets outside the core hiking market.

    3. Did you start as a DIYer? How did you make the leap to starting a gear business?

    Yes, I started in 1998 making gear in preparation for my 1999 PCT thru hike. The original tarptent shelter was born from that effort. At the time I had never touched a sewing machine and had no idea what I was doing but over time learned to sew and more importantly learned how to design using very sophisticated CAD tools. The genesis of Tarptent was really quite unintended. My wife, Cynthia, and Tarptent co-owner borrowed my original PCT tarptent shelter to hike the JMT and came home complaining that it was too hard to set up. In an effort to make her a better shelter, a process I thought would take me a weekend but instead took many months, the first two commercial models (Virga and Squall) were born. When I opened tarptent.com [3] and offered those models, I naively thought we might sell 50 of them the first year. I still remember the shock of 30 orders the first day. In those days I had no manufacturing and no idea how to get it, but did have the sister of a fellow PCT hiker who was a professional seamstress on the other side of the country, and for the first couple of years I would cut fabric and ship it to New Hampshire. It would come back a couple of months later as a finished shelter. We moved to full scale professional manufacturing in late 2004.

    4. Do you see the possibility (opportunity and/or threat) that the big gear makers try to buy up the cottage gear makers like we see
    happening in the craft beer space?

    Beer is a much bigger market than the gear market so, no, that isn’t likely. When gear starts showing up in local supermarkets and gas stations then maybe.

    5. What do you think are the greatest market opportunities for your product to expand the US market; Europe, Asia? How do you plan to achieve these opportunities?

    There is an interest in the outdoors in many developed countries around the world. We will continue to work at getting the word out and trying to meet different needs and expectations.

    6. Your favorite hike?

    The PCT profoundly changed my life so it would be unfair to compare anything else against it. I have been fortunate to have hiked all over the Western US as well as in Nepal, New Zealand, the UK, Spain and Canada and I loved each and every experience. I think my new favorite place is the Wind River Range in Wyoming. I did the Wind River High Route a year ago September and it was a spectacular walk.

    7. Is there anything about your company that you would like to talk about that we haven't covered yet?

    I’m excited about the future. We have a great team and are dedicated to producing great products at affordable prices. We remain committed to making gear in the US and to the direct-to-user sales model. I think we all benefit — producer and consumer — when there is a tight feedback loop. We get better when we hear from users, and users get better gear when producers listen. I love talking to people about trips and gear and my door is always open.

    Henry Shires
    Tarptent

    Thank you to Henry Shires from TarpTent for answering our questions and thank you to members Lawton “Disco” Grinter and Mike Unger for the great interview questions.
    If you would like to join in the fun and submit questions we can ask our great sponsors, please send them to - editor@aldhawest.org.

  • 22 Nov 2016 10:34 AM | Kate Hoch (Administrator)

    By Clay "Woodward" Jacobson

    Idaho is made up of approximately 60 percent public lands, consisting of some of the deepest, most remote wilderness areas in the lower-48. This makes the Idaho Centennial Trail a great case study for the state of our nation’s trail system, rich with opportunities and challenges. 

    The National Forest Service was created to manage and maintain our public lands for recreational and commercial use in order to offset the wholesale liquidation of natural resources by large corporations. Access to these lands was preserved for future generations by leaders with admirable foresight. However, the Forest Service has been subject to changing political climates, bureaucratic overload, and financial responsibility for a constantly growing firefighting industry. This has stretched available resources for trail maintenance to the breaking point. 

    The days of paid, professional trail crews with years of experience are largely a thing of the past. Across the country, a new model of volunteer trail organizations has stepped forward to fill the role of trail stewards. Groups like the PCTA and Washington Trails Association have tapped into local interest to keep trails open—utilizing grants, donations, and volunteer labor. In Idaho, the Idaho Trails Association (ITA) had 200 individual volunteers donate 3,600 hours in the field this year. Four of ITA’s 17 work projects were on the Idaho Centennial Trail. 

    As long-distance hikers, we are all familiar with the benefits of being out on the trail. Most of us have passed many hours contemplating the monumental efforts involved in keeping thousands of miles of trails open. Facing the short fall of federal trail maintenance, the trail community has ample opportunities to get involved in the preservation and improvement of the trails we enjoy. The weeks I have spent on trail with the ITA have been just as valuable and rewarding as my thru-hikes. ITA’s focus on traditional skills, tools, and horse packing has taught me volumes about the history of our public lands. It has allowed me to reconnect with places I discovered on the ICT, returning to clear the very same logs I had to climb over while I was hiking. 



    It’s about more than just taking pride in our trails. It’s about taking ownership. These are our public lands and our trails. Without the efforts and voices of the trail community, no long distance hike in America would be open for us to enjoy. The members of the trail community play a vital role, logging more miles than most people would hike in several life times. We are the eyes, ears and boots (or trail runners) on the ground. But we can also be the cross-cut in the deadfall, the loppers in the over-brush, and the shovel in the slough. We have the chance to be more than trail users; we can be trail stewards who give back to the trails and the community we love.

    Photo credit; Travis Olson

©2015 ALDHA-West

ALDHA-West is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization.

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