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Backpacker November/December 2020

Published nine times a year, Backpacker is a magazine of wilderness travel, offering practical, "you can do it, here's how" advice to help you enjoy every trip. Filled with the best places, gear, and information for all kinds of hiking and camping trips, each issue delivers foldout maps and stunning color photography.

United States
Pocket Outdoor Media, LLC

in this issue

3 min
warming up to winter

Backpacking is so many things. It’s a leisure pursuit, a way to connect with nature, an athletic feat, a means of forging bonds with your friends and family, a problem-solving game, an escape, a subculture… Realistically, it’s something unique to every hiker. Because, above all, it’s a pull from within to get out there, and that’s a very individual thing. A backpacker’s attitude toward winter is personal, too. Do you embrace the fourth season? Change sports? Or do you hibernate during the dark months? Here’s some advice I learned from one of my other favorite pulls—rock climbing. There’s a saying in climbing that reads almost like a zen koan: “The more you can climb, the more you can climb.” Unpacked a little, it means that as you get stronger and more experienced…

4 min

WE RECEIVED TONS of reader feedback for “Meeting the Moment” (backpacker.com/EdNoteFall20), our Fall 2020 Editor’s Note. In it, Editorial Director Shannon Davis addressed our push to do more for social and climate justice in the outdoors, in our content, and in our business. We received love and support, and yes, cancellations too. Here, we’re sharing a selection of what you had to say. To those who cancelled or urged us to stay out of politics, know that you’re always welcome back when you’re ready to hike on the right side of history. May our paths merge again. I bought my first issue yesterday because of the Black woman on your cover. Allies have to be willing to get uncomfortable. Truthful discussions and moving outside your comfort zone is the only way…

1 min
national summit day winner

On August 1, BACKPACKER nation turned out to hike high and raise money for Big City Mountaineers, a program that provides adult-mentored wilderness experiences to youth from disinvested communities. Reader A.J. Matthews went up in Washington and came back with this selfie that won our photo contest. “To celebrate National Summit Day, we set out on a classic Mt. Rainier hike: Tolmie Peak,” Matthews says. “We started along the Wonderland Trail before taking a side trip to Eunice Lake. Even in August, patches of snow lingered as we reached the sapphire-blue water and spotted the fire tower atop Tolmie Peak. We admired the late-summer wildflowers as we climbed to the summit, and once we reached it, we basked in the postcard views of Mt. Rainier.”…

1 min
frosted world

Once winter settles over the Appalachians, the higher you go, the less people you see. This spot at the top of Roan Mountain is no exception. Where summer finds it brimming with hikers, winter brings stillness. The 5-mile round trip can be a bit slippery after a snowstorm, but traction devices and hiking poles will give you the stability to climb beyond the trees to the 6,189-foot summit. There, frost often rimes the grass and rhododendrons and the views stretch for miles over the snowy Blue Ridge Mountains. Roan Mountain is actually a series of five distinct summits—Round Bald, Jane Bald, Grassy Ridge Bald, Roan High Knob, and Roan High Bluff. You can walk the Appalachian Trail along almost the entire ridgetop, which is accessed from the trailhead at Carver’s…

4 min
meet the neighbors

I STARTLE AWAKE AT DAWN to the sound of heavy breathing an arms-length from our tent. Heart pounding, I bolt upright, ready to fend off sharp-toothed swamp monsters lurking under our chickee—a 10-by-12-foot wooden platform on stilts that serves as a personal island in Everglades National Park. But once I unzip the door, instead of an invading alligator, I spy two bottlenose dolphins circling, probably in search of snapper for breakfast. I breathe a sigh of relief, wonder replacing my worries, as I take in the 360-degree view of water reflecting the calm golden light of dawn. This chickee in Oyster Bay is our first overnight stop on a 50-mile circumnavigation of Whitewater Bay in the southern half of the Everglades. It’s my husband Rob’s dream trip: a week of canoeing…

6 min
pictured rocks national lakeshore munising, michigan

THE INSIDER A teenage Tom Nemacheck wasn’t happy when his family relocated from Detroit to the Upper Peninsula in 1969, so after graduation he joined the Air Force to head somewhere new—only to find himself stationed back in northern Michigan. “After that, I decided I was destined to stay here,” he says, and he proceeded to embrace the wilder side of his new home. Today, Nemacheck is the executive director of the Upper Peninsula Travel and Recreation Association and has explored every inch of the U.P. Pictured Rocks is one of his favorite hiking destinations. “We don’t have more scenic, easily accessible trails in the U.P. than at Pictured Rocks,” Nemacheck says. Winter is when this lakeside wilderness turns truly incredible, with snow drooping over the leafless hardwoods and every waterfall…