'Slack packing' in the Colorado mountains

'Slack packing' in the Colorado mountains

In July of 2013, as we were finishing a backpacking trip in Rocky Mountain National Park, I told my hiking buddy, Andy, about my fantasy backpack. As a guy approaching 65, I no longer enjoyed carrying a 40-pound backpack all day.

“Andy, can you think of any Rocky Mountain destinations where we could backpack in 4 to 6 miles, set up a base camp and do day hikes from there?”

Andy got back with us a few months later with an amazing plan. He had researched the trails in....

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Birding with the clapper whisperer

Birding with the clapper whisperer

I wasn’t even supposed to be standing next to my sister on her San Francisco Bay Trail walk, looking at the clapper rail crouched under the bush that we shouldn’t have been able to find in broad daylight.

In fact, on this day, we came down during the day even though we knew we likely wouldn’t see a clapper. But I had requested a clapper sighting for Christmas, and it was Christmas Eve. And my sister has become so good at finding these birds that one of her fellow...

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Abbott Butte trek lifts the spirit

Abbott Butte trek lifts the spirit

If walls could talk, oh, the stories that the Abbott Butte fire lookout tower could tell.

The long-retired lookout is a remnant of a different era when a Forest Service flush with funding and purpose invested in administrative and recreational infrastructure on public lands and kept a sharp eye out for wildfire from remote peaks offering sweeping views.

Most of those old lookouts are long gone, but the Abbott Butte tower is still standing, although admittedly with a tilt that...

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Coast to coast on Wainwright's path

Coast to coast on Wainwright's path

Alfred Wainwright's love of the footpaths of England resulted in the popular, 192-mile Coast to Coast Path across northern England. The route goes through three national parks (The Lake District, the Dales and the Moors) with stops in quaint villages, including Grasmere — where Wordsworth wrote many of his poems — and Richmond, a market town built around an 11th-century castle.

The 13 days in August I spent on this walk (12 walking and one rest day) were the highlight of.....

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Gates of the Arctic — a different world

Gates of the Arctic — a different world

I peered down on the land skimming below the pontoons of our float plane as it carried us into Gates of the Arctic National Park: rivers of blue and green curling around sandbars, glacier-remnant lakes dotting broad valleys, and mountains towering above. At times it seemed our plane’s wings would scrape the slopes. This was the country that would surround us for the next 11 days as we canoed and hiked in this remote northwest Alaska park. 

The plane touched down on a lake...

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Misadventure on The Rogue

Last Saturday, the Rogue Fly Fishers had their annual steelhead tournament. Participants pay $150 each for the privilege of being rowed down the Rogue by a guide or knowledgeable member to fish for steelhead with flies. There are nice prizes for the participant who catches the most inches of steelhead, and the one who catches the biggest fish.

I was rowing my driftboat with two participants, a woman and a man, from Dodge Bridge to the Touvelle State Park takeout. I am an experienced...

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Visiting Oregon Caves via Mount Elijah

Visiting Oregon Caves via Mount Elijah

The winds had shifted and pushed the smoke from the forest fires south. The sky was blue, the sun was shining and the day beckoned. We gathered that morning to load our gear into one pickup and then ourselves into two other vehicles. The plan was for Tom Gilley and Tom Murphy to transport our overnight gear to the Oregon Caves, where we would meet up with them after a long hike.

Those of us traveling to the Sturgis Fork trailhead agreed to meet at the Applegate Store before turning up.....

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Climbing the Callahans is an enjoyable experience

Climbing the Callahans is an enjoyable experience

Smith Rock will forever be the best sport climbing spot in Oregon, but it is not the only nearby place to climb. Western Oregon is home to many bolted crags, and while their popularity may pale in comparison to the great climbing Mecca, they offer an enjoyable experience nonetheless. 
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Birthday party on the Inca Trail

Birthday party on the Inca Trail

Seldom, a member of the Southern Oregon Nordic Club, sent an email to members inviting us to join him on a hike on the Inca Trail to Machu Pichhu — to arrive on his 80th birthday. Four of us locals took up the challenge, along with four friends and relatives from out of town.

We hired a Peruvian tour company, Karikuy Tours, with three experienced guides. After three days of acclimatizing to the altitude in Cusco, Peru, we started on the four-day trek to the World Heritage site.

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Down, but not out, at Cascade Lakes Relay

Down, but not out, at Cascade Lakes Relay

At the beginning of the year, I was invited by a great friend to join a Portland-based running team for the Cascade Lakes Relay, a 216.6-mile trek on Aug. 1-2 that starts at Diamond Lake.
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A solo summit of South Sister

A solo summit of South Sister

South Sister towered over me at 10,358 feet tall, and I couldn't stop staring at its reddish slope covered in patchy glaciers.
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Boomers on the Trail

Boomers on the Trail

For more than 20 years, my wife, Barbara, and I had dreamed of hiking the trail along the Wild and Scenic Section of the Rogue River. In May, we made that dream a reality.
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A trip to the summit on a gorgeous day

A trip to the summit on a gorgeous day

It was the first day of summer, and we were being treated to an explosion of colors on top of Marys Peak near Corvallis. Brilliant purple and red wildflowers carpeted the meadows and clung to scant pockets of soil in an area known as the rock garden.
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It's the small things

It's the small things

As we hiked down the Illinois River Trail, tight-roping the edge of a burnt-orange canyon carved by the river 2,000 feet below, it felt as though we were searching for a needle in a haystack.
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Magical Rocks

Magical Rocks

For decades, Smith Rock has been considered a climbing mecca. It's a favorite among world-class climbers and is where modern sport climbing originated. Oregon climbers should not take for granted that such a significant place is only 30 minutes outside of Bend — less than a four-hour drive from the Rogue Valley.
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Rugged Emigrant Lake walls are great for rock climbing

Rugged Emigrant Lake walls are great for rock climbing

Emigrant Lake, located just east of Ashland, is much loved by local residents for its ideal summertime setting. But even though I was born and raised in the area, I never knew it was home to some of Southern Oregon's best rock climbing.
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A short drive away, Squaw Lakes is a hidden winter jewel

A short drive away, Squaw Lakes is a hidden winter jewel

One of the open secrets of the Applegate Valley is Squaw Lakes. They are remote, but still close enough that in summer, locals throng their waters to camp, swim and hike. In winter, however, the crowds are gone and they become a secret again.
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Castles in the sky

Castles in the sky

The granite spires sparkled in the sunlight, and the color of the rocks contrasted perfectly with the blue sky.
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Tree lovers' heaven

Tree lovers' heaven

If an inspiring hike among very big trees is what you're after, plus a date with the ocean, then the Damnation Creek Trail in Redwood National Park delivers.
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Snowshoes on the Mountain

Snowshoes on the Mountain

The State of Jefferson is a hiker's paradise, with several mountain ranges and numerous trails, and each turn of the season brings news twists to the landscape.
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