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Backpacker July - August 2021

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
Back issues only

in this issue

4 min
editors note

When he was five years old, Michel Gelobter hit the pavement in New York City with his parents to register voters. “This was back when registering was hard. You needed two witnesses,” he says. “Working for change is in my blood. It’s a calling.” Today, he’s founder and CEO of Cooler, a venture whose mission is to connect consumer purchases to solutions for global warming. That includes your Backpacker purchase; Cooler neutralizes the carbon impact of everything that goes into creating and shipping the magazine in your hands. It’s no coincidence that Gelobter is also a backpacker. YOU GREW UP IN BROOKLYN. HOW DID YOU GET INTO HIKING? I went to a very unusual college called Deep Springs in the Eastern Sierra, near Bishop, California. It has just 25 students and a mission…

1 min
the good fight

The migratory patterns of wildlife have never followed human-drawn borders. Unfortunately, that can leave animals vulnerable to any number of manmade barriers like highways, subdivisions—or border wall projects like the one between the U.S. and Mexico. Though currently halted, it has already done a remarkable amount of damage to area wildlife. The wall itself is an obvious inhibitor, but, the construction crews, demolition operations, and clearcutting projects that prepare space for the barrier also prevent endangered species like the Mexican gray wolf from continuing to recover their former territory and block north-south migratory patterns for deer, bighorn sheep, and mountain lions. The wall’s path goes through several national wildlife refuges, national monuments, and national forests, but no Environmental Impact Statements or reviews have been conducted, thanks to a 2017 waiver issued…

6 min
kilimanjaro: but first, soccer

It’s a circus up here at Third Cave, our campsite for night three on Mt. Kilimanjaro’s Rongai route. This frenzy wasn’t what I’d imagined; my group had dreamed up this makeshift soccer tournament here at 12,400 feet, the beginning of Kilimanjaro’s alpine desert zone, to ease nerves and foster relaxation ahead of our summit push. But relaxing is hardly an option when there’s a title on the line. Breathing hard, I sprint across our improvised field, carefully skirting the sticks marking the sidelines. Cheers, whistles, and the piercing “goaaaal” call from our porter and impromptu sportscaster Kelvin Chambulila distract me from Uhuru Peak’s broad summit pyramid, looming 7,000 feet above in my periphery. I know I should feel intimidated—by the mountain, and by the shocked climbers spectating from neighboring campsites. But…

2 min
dropping into a granite fortress

Join the club at backpacker.com/outsideplus The 600-foot scramble from Jackass Pass down to Lonesome Lake might be in one of the most popular wilderness playgrounds in Wyoming, but it’s also my all-time favorite mile of hiking in America. Located in the heart of the Wind River Range, the Cirque of the Towers takes some effort (and dirt-road driving) to get to, but it pays off in the form of some of the finest granite monoliths and trout-filled lakes I’ve seen in 25 years of hiking. Peering down into the cirque as I took my first steps from Jackass Pass is permanently etched in my mind. I spend the first few miles from the trailhead sweating under my load of camping gear. At Big Sandy Lake, I take a break to dip my…

4 min
ridgeline hikes

1 Skyline Divide Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest, WA Info bit.do/skylinembsq Trailhead 48.8803, -121.8650 In July and August, wildflower meadows crown the rolling crest of this ridgeline in shades of red, white, and purple, with horizon-to-horizon views of the North Cascades on every side. Pitch your tent on the divide at mile 4.5 of this 9-mile out-and-back to catch the sunrise sliding over the glaciers of 10,781-foot Mt. Baker and 9,131-foot Mt. Shuksan. 2 Rocky Peak Ridge Giant Mountain Wilderness, NY Info bit.do/rockyridge Trailhead 44.1498, -73.6267 The views start early and only get better on this 13.4-mile out-and-back. Trace the ridge up and over several smaller peaks and stretches of rock slabs on the way to 360-degree summit vistas of the surrounding Adirondacks. The steep 4,700 feet of elevation gain keeps the crowds at bay, but the solitude is…

2 min
thru-hiking back to myself

When I started my Colorado Trail thru-hike, my only plan was to increase visibility for my nonprofit, Blackpackers (blackpackers.com), through my social media and blog posts. We work to bridge the gap in representation in the outdoors through gear lending and community events; what better place to represent that than on a thru-hike? What I didn’t see coming was how much this trip would change me personally. My thru-hike of the CT turned out to be one of my most lifechanging events—second only to the birth of my son. I became a mother at 23 and have spent the last 15 years raising an amazing boy. I’ve tried to teach him how to grow into his identity and express it in the ways that feel most comfortable to him. But in…