A Beginner's Guide to Thru-Hiking: Part I
By Colleen McVay / April, 2020
What is Thru or Section-Hiking?
Thru-hiking describes the act of backpacking end-to-end of a long distance trail, such as the Pacific Crest or Appalachian Trail. These treks require extensive preparation, training, and knowledge in the backpacking field, as well as an appreciation for the natural wonders that come with them.
I’ll be writing this series as I prepare for my own section thru-hike this summer through the John Muir Trail, documenting my tips for how a beginner can prepare for a similar adventure. These blogs will be in conjunction with “Mari’s Thru-hiking Basics” OA video series, so be sure to check out her videos on how to properly pack your backpack, recipe tips, and more!
Before deciding if you want to embark on a long distance trek, it's helpful to establish that you will be physically, mentally, and financially able to do so. Some considerations include:
- The mental challenge of living out of your backpack for months on end.
- The physical training required for hiking 10+ miles a day.
- The financial obligation of gear, food, and little income for a long period.
- The extended time commitment and seasonal weather patterns.
Where to Begin:
Once decided to follow through with your trek, the exciting planning process can begin! It’s helpful to start reading up on the basics of your specific trail through their websites, like the Pacific Crest Trail Association and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, or look into classes offered at your local REI store. I also joined Facebook and website communities devoted to thru-hikes, to get a sense for current conditions, gear advice, and personal stories.
Registering Your Hike:
The next step requires you to decide your entry/exit points and obtain permits for access to certain high demand locations (necessary for most of the PCT). Recreation.gov and USDA.gov are two great resources for obtaining backcountry National Forest and state park permits. This OA video delves into great detail on how to apply for backcountry permits for the JMT, check it out here!
I hope you follow along with this blog series to learn more about route planning, gear specifics, physical preparation, food basics, and more!
1025 Ext. Circle Dr.
Davis, CA. 95616.
How To: Find Good Car Camping Spots
By Rachel Hallmark / April 29, 2020
Are you anxious to camp in the great outdoors, but aren’t quite ready to strap on a backpack to carry all your gear into the backcountry? Or maybe you still want some amenities like a barbeque pit and an outhouse? Well luckily, there are many opportunities to camp outdoors while still being able to drive your car to a campsite. Here are some tips to help you find great car camping spots!
*Photo from beyondthetent.com
Talk to Rangers!
National Park and Forest Rangers are incredibly knowledgeable about local recreation areas, campsites, and any regulations and restrictions that may be in place. Calling or visiting a ranger station in the area you plan to camp in is a great way to gain information about the area, and Park Rangers may have some insider knowledge you cannot find anywhere else. The U.S. Forest Service website also has some great resources, like information on how to be prepared for a camping trip.
One of the best ways to ensure that you can get a car camping spot in your desired location is to make a reservation in advance. National Parks are very common camping destinations and campsites can fill up quickly, luckily most parks have programs that allow you to reserve a campsite in advance of your visit. National Forests can also get very busy during prime camping seasons and around holidays, so if you plan on visiting during these times it is a good idea to consider reserving a campsite in advance. There may be fees associated with reservations, but it is a sure way to guarantee yourself a campsite.
Check out State Parks and National Forests
State parks and national forests often have campsites that are frequently not as busy as National Parks but offer similar amenities. Here is a list of National Forests that are proximal to National Parks. Many National Forest areas offer campsites on a first-come, first-served basis which can allow for more flexible trip planning. There is more than double the amount of National Forest land as there is National Park land and there are over 10,000 state parks across the country; this can make finding a campsite easier just because there is more land, which allows for greater opportunities.
For Free Sites…
National Forest and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) areas frequently allow camping outside of a designated campground, also called dispersed camping. Dispersed camping is often just driving along an access road until you find a pullout to park your car and pitch your tent. This type of camping usually allows for more privacy because you are not at an established campground, but for this same reason, dispersed campsites may lack some amenities you would find at more established campgrounds. Check out the National Forest website for more information about dispersed camping.
1025 Extension Center Drive
Davis, CA 95616
5 Tips for Purchasing Your First Road Bike
By Sophia Vanderheym
April 23, 2020
With spring in full bloom and oh so many places yet to explore, now seems like the opportune moment to try something new! For me, it’s road biking and I hope it is for you too! Biking may seem like a daunting sport to delve into, but below are tips to help make the process of purchasing one’s first bike easier.
- Know Where You Want to Go
There are an array of bikes out there-- from mountain biking to adventuring touring to road biking, there is an abundance of choice. But knowing where you want to bike will help you narrow down what type of bike will best serve your needs. For more information on bike types, click here.
- Set a Budget
Good bikes can range anywhere from $400-$8,000. Once you’ve settled on what type of bike you’d like, you must think about additional gear costs such as shoes, SPD cleats, bike shorts, helmet, etc.
- Know Your Size
Before you settle on a specific bike, take some time and do a bit of research! Going to a bike shop to get fitted is recommended, as bikes come in all kinds of sizes and in order to feel comfortable, you’ll want to know your bike frame size before purchasing.
- Buy Second Hand!
Equipment for biking can be expensive, but purchasing second hand gear is a cost-effective way to reduce price tags and eliminate material waste. Online resources to shop for used bikes include Bicycle Bluebook, Craigslist , and REI used gear.
*Due to COVID-19 it is not recommended to purchase second hand materials at this time.
- Ask an Expert!
There is a lot of material on the internet, but compiling it can be overwhelming. If you still have questions or are unsure about biking in general, talk to an experienced biker or professional.
*Photo from mapmyrun.com.
1025 Ext. Circle Dr.
Davis, CA. 95616.
How To: Adventure Responsibly
By Rachel Hallmark
April 15th, 2020
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the stay at home orders that are in place throughout most of the United States, getting outside may look much different for many people now than it ever has before. Spending time outside can help to reduce stress and anxiety spiked by the pandemic and it can help to maintain a sense of normalcy during these turbulent times. It is still possible to safely and smartly enjoy time outdoors, however, before making a decision to be active outside, make sure to check the latest local and state government guidelines for your area to ensure that your actions follow these guidelines.
Make sure to maintain social distancing
The Center for Disease Control says that when you go outside you should practice social distancing by staying at least six feet away from other people to help reduce virus transmission. Avoiding crowded trails and busy recreational areas as well as exercising during less popular times are both methods to maintain social distancing while still getting outside. Outdoor recreation can be a solitary activity, but if you participate in these activities with others, make sure it’s only with people from your household. It is still possible to partake in outdoor activities such as running, hiking, biking, and walking, just make sure to be responsible and stay six feet away from others!
Stay close home
Traveling far to recreational areas often involves stopping for gas, groceries, and bathroom breaks, which could potentially put you and others at risk. Especially avoid traveling to small recreational towns, as an influx of travelers could stress these vulnerable communities and put them at further risk. If you drive somewhere, make sure it is a short enough distance that you do not have to stop at all between your home and your destination. Now is a great time to take a walk around your neighborhood, run through a local park, or check out hiking trails that are close to home!
Practice excellent hygiene
Participating in outdoor recreation in public places often involves coming in contact with surfaces that many other people have also been in contact with. It is very important to practice good hygiene before, during, and after spending time outside. This means avoid touching park benches, using handrails, drinking from public water fountains, and coming in close contact with other surfaces. Avoid touching your face while you are out and make sure to wash your hands often, especially after being in public. Practicing good hygiene is one of the best ways to protect yourself and others from COVID-19!
Remember to adhere to local orders, practice social distancing, be smart and stay safe.
1025 Ext. Circle Dr.
Davis, CA. 95616.