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Backpacker January 2018

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

2 min

The Party’s Over Riff Raff may attract some of the liveliest hikers on the Appalachian Trail, but it’s certainly not the most popular crew. When we wrote about the hard-partying group in our October issue (“Trail Daze,” page 62), readers expressed distaste. “Let the boozing crowd go to Daytona Beach or elsewhere, but keep them away from my sacred wilderness,” wrote Michael Donovan. And Ron Tipton, President & CEO of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, thought the problem was overstated. “The ATC does not believe this is typical thru-hiker behavior, and claims that this is a sign of ‘changing trail culture’ are greatly exaggerated,” he wrote. “Are there groups who drink or take drugs on the AT? To a small degree, yes, and we continually monitor trail behavior and seek law enforcement…

1 min
fly south for the winter

Organ pipes provide little shade when the desert sun pummels this preserve, but with January highs in the 70s, who cares? Cash in on this national monument’s best season by setting up a basecamp at the tent-only Alamo Canyon Campground among the arms-aloficactuses ($10 self-issue permit required). Now you’re in prime position for dayhikes: Photographer Ian Shive recommends the short-butrough, 2-mile Alamo Canyon Trail, which leads east into the crumbly, reddish Ajo Range. (Set an alarm for sunrise; you won’t want to miss first light bleeding into the sky above the 3,000-foot mountains.) Note: Organ Pipe, right on the border, sometimes has immigration issues. Check the park website for alerts and expect law enforcement patrols. Contact nps.gov/orpi…

4 min
yellowstone national park, wyoming

The only thing better than Yellowstone in summer? Yellowstone in winter. Picture herds of bison and elk, low-hanging steam shrouding evergreen forests, gem-hued pools blazing amid the snow-dusted landscape— and savoring it all in solitude. The insider The northern Rockies’ punishing cold has never deterred Ken Sinay, founder of Yellowstone Safari Company. For 27 years, he’s guided multiday trips into the park in all seasons, so it’s easy to take him at his word that winter is the best time to see “large animals in big numbers, in vast landscapes.” 1. Herd-spotting With warmer air temperatures and thinner snowpack, the relatively low elevations (6,200 to 7,600 feet) across the northern portion of the park attract wintering bighorn sheep, wolves, bison, and elk—lots of elk. As many as 5,000 of the ungulates spend winter here.…

2 min
flock together: join the migration

THE DOOR SHUTS, then all is quiet. I empty my pack in the corner of the small, one-room shelter. I unroll my sleeping bag, fluff the down, and arrange it on a mat laid on the wooden floor. I practice quietly opening and shutting the window coverings. Any sudden movement could scatter the oneof- a-kind flock that I’m here to see. Just 15 minutes ago, my camping partner and I threw our packs into a Rowe Sanctuary volunteer’s truck for a ride past the native prairie to this crude hut in the park’s wetlands. I’m a backpacker, and though the plywood shelter has no amenities, it felt like cheating to catch a ride to my backcountry camp. But tromping through the preserve could disturb the wildlife, so we accepted the ride. Now,…

1 min
celebrate a wild new year

1. Thomas Mountain Cabin ADIRONDACK PARK, NY Snowshoe 1.4 miles up gentle Valley Woods Road to the one-room, unheated shelter (first-come, first-serve), where four walls are better than nylon and chances are good it’ll be empty in winter. Move the party to the front porch at midnight to spy fireworks over Lake George to the east. Info lglc.org • • • • • 2. Santa Catalina Island CHANNEL ISLANDS, CA Hikers looking to work up a real thirst will appreciate the 37-mile Trans-Catalina Trail. An 80-minute ferry ride and day of hiking will guarantee you backcountry solitude, and you may even be able to spot fireworks over Long Beach. Bonus: Winter highs top out in the 60s. Info catalinaconservancy.org • • • • • 3. Arestua Hut ROOSEVELT NATIONAL FOREST, CO It may be cold outside, but the Arestua Hut’s…

1 min
follow a newly reopened route

After shuttering 50 years ago to protect avocados—true story—California’s 16-mile Franklin Trail makes a grand “reopening” this February. With the help of local volunteers, the Forest Service began a seven-year effort to restore the trail in 2011. Now, the steep, chaparra l-choked track weaves through orchards of the precious fruit (resist the urge to pick), connecting the coastal town of Carpinteria to the Los Padres National Forest backcountry. The Franklin Trail—also known as the “Avo Route”—is a worthy day trip on its own, but your best bet is to use it as a gateway into the Dick Smith Wilderness: From Meadow View Lane, take the Franklin Trail 7.9 miles to Santa Ynez Ridge, where you can overnight near Alder Creek. Info franklintrail.org…