Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Trail food

I need to find better trail food to eat, food I eat during the hike rather than before or after. I'm in a rut now and find I don't eat enough during the hike. Of course like many adult Americans, losing some weight would be good but I would do better by eating adequately during the hike rather than over-eating after the hike because I'm famished.

I usually eat dried fruit and nuts, candy bars, and Wild Berry Power Bars as snacks. For lunch I eat jerky, snack cheese, crackers or rolls, and an apple. I like this and it is simple but it gets boring and I often don't take in enough calories to maintain energy while hiking. I've tried sandwiches but I have not found any that I like well enough to eat often and that are safe in my pack in warm weather. I have tried a number of other nutrition, granola, and breakfast bars and find I get tired of them quickly. I used to make my own Logan bread and a dense, calorie rich sweet bread but they got old also. Unfortunately, most of the food I eat when I'm not hiking doesn't keep well and would be dangerous to pack in warm weather. About the only ideas I have now are to try to vary the basic items and just eat more or more often.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Handicapped parking for backcountry trails

Why reserved handicapped parking spots for backcountry trails?

In at least 2 national parks, Yellowstone and Olympic, I have seen handicapped parking spaces reserved at backcountry trailheads. These are not nature trails, boardwalks, or any kind of graded and smoothed trails nor are they at scenic overviews. I don't understand why such spaces are reserved since the trails themselves are not accessable to the handicapped. I wouldn't mind except that parking can be limited at some trailheads and reserving a spot may mean all the other spaces are full and I have no place to park. Not all trailhead parking is done this way and I can't deduce the logic why one site has reserved spaces and another does not.

I realize that Yellowstone NP has at least one handicapped accessable backcountry camping spot and also that some trails are reasonably accessable for some distance from the trailhead. However, the reserved parking spots are not limited to these sites and seem randomly placed to me.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

"Dash and Rest" hikers

I hike fairly slowly but usually with a steady pace and if I need to rest often will slow down my pace. Every so often I encounter a group of hikers who walk quickly but stop often. If I am hiking in the same direction as they are, I repeatedly step off the trail to let them pass and then a few minutes later pass them as they are stopped. Of course there are many reasons other than resting to stop on a trail, to view scenery, take pictures, calls of nature, etc., and I also stop for these reasons. I'm not bothered by a group catching up to me a couple of times but after 6 or more times, I get a bit annoyed. Stepping aside every 10 to 15 minutes while the same group passes me slows me down and breaks my rhythm. I usually find that I get to the "object" of the hike about the same time as the "dash and rest" group.

When I have repeatedly stepped aside for the same group of hikers, I try to find a strategy to avoid having to do so often. Sometimes I can walk a bit faster and take shorter breaks and remain ahead of them. Other times just going a bit slower, taking more breaks works better, I stay behind them. Sometimes the group is so eratic that neither strategy works.

Obviously my annoyance at being repeatedly passed by the same group is my problem. However, I wonder that the group walking faster never seems to think it is odd (or rude) to keep passing the same hiker(s). If they are such strong hikers, why don't they stay ahead? And if they need to rest so often, maybe they are hiking faster than they can sustain.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Other animal encounters

Bears are of course not the only dangerous animals when hiking. I haven't met a cougar while hiking for many years, certainly I would be anxious if a cougar remained in the same area when I was hiking. Moose are another animal that occasionally charge people and cause injuries. I know I treat moose with respect and as much distance as I can manage when hiking but have still come within 20 feet of one accidently. Elk, especially females with calves and rutting bulls are also dangerous, last fall I retreated back down a trail when a bull seemed to regard me as a rival. I was glad I had retreated as I watched him attack a small tree and I decided to find another trail to hike.

Except for the 2 close grizzly encounters mentioned here, bison have caused me the most concern about my safety. Of course I only hike around bison in Yellowstone National Park, I encounter other animals in a variety of Parks and forests. More than once I have walked far too close to a bison laying down and partly hidden by vegetation. Hearing a 'huff' from a bull bison less than 15 feet away does get my attention. One time I found myself in the middle of a herd of moving bison where I could not see anyplace to move away from them. I moved to an area of dead trees, some standing and some down, in the hope that would deter a charge. I sheltered behind a standing dead tree as the herd went by me. One cow and 2 year old went by about 5 feet away. Another time I looked back along a trail and a herd of bison were coming along the trail rapidly toward me. This trail did not have a good place to get off trail so I started running as fast as I could until I was able to turn off the trail and shelter behind a boulder. When I started, the bison were about 400 feet behind me, at the end about 50 feet.

From my last 3 entries I almost sound as if my hiking were fraught with fearful encounters with animals and that I was always nervous. That certainly isn't true, while an encounter may startle me and cause some brief fear, nearly always the anxiety soon gives way to a sense of priviledge to see such animals in a minimally altered environment. Part of the reason I hike in places such as Yellowstone and Glacier Parks is because of the potentially dangerous animals; the awareness of danger, not only from animals, makes hiking much different than walking along a nature trail.