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Backpacker June 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

3 min
no mirage. magic.

THE HIKE TO CORONA ARCH, outside of Moab, Utah, crosses shadeless slickrock and sand. It’s a short trail—just a mile and a half—but it’s not easy. On a warm, sunny day, the heat reflects off the sandstone, sapping your energy and building a powerful thirst. For a 9-year-old kid who can’t see the end of the trail and doesn’t really know what’s so great about a dumb arch anyway, it can be demoralizing. That’s what happened to Evan, a youngster visiting the Moab area with his family last October. He was just about spent after a mile, and started complaining, the way kids do. I can’t go any farther. I just want to go back. I can’t take another step. But in this case, some hikers walking in the other direction overheard…

2 min

Origin Story The National Trails System Act turns 50 this year—and so does one of the original National Scenic Trails it designated, the Pacific Crest Trail. For early thru-hikers like Eric Ryback (SoBo, 1970; pictured), the PCT was a wilder path. See historical photos of him and other trekkers, courtesy of the Pacific Crest Trail Association, at backpacker.com/historicalPCT, and read our picks for the National Scenic Trails’ best miles. • • • • • DIRTY DEEDS After we quizzed readers about mud season hiking in May (“Mud Season,” page 10), Scott Bascom wrote in to chastise us for what he saw as a Leave No Trace faux pas. “In the East, at least, trails are generally closed between winter and Memorial Day due to the damage that hikers can cause,” he wrote. Check trail…

1 min
air it out.

The upside to the Rockies’ pitiful snowpack this year? Hikers can weasel into the alpine a lot sooner. So get to work and fill your bucket list with summer summits, like Devils Causeway, a crumbly plateau that narrows to 3 feet wide in places. From the 12,000-foot-tall tabletop, enjoy a spin-around view of the Flat Tops gumdrops popping out of June-green slopes studded with the season’s first purple columbines and yellow mule’s ears. The best route there is from the Stillwater trailhead; follow the East Fork Trail (#1119) 3 miles north to the obvious saddle. Hikers cozy with heights can follow the catwalk west all the way to the north-south Chinese Wall before looping back on the Bear River Trail (#1120) for a 10.6-mile trek. CONTACT www.fs.usda.gov/whiteriver…

3 min
take a chance on an unnamed lake

I STRUGGLE TO CATCH MY BREATH as I make my final push up the scree slope. At more than 15,000 feet, I’m higher than any peak in the Lower 48, and I’m still going up. I chew on the thought as I trudge up the last set of switchbacks into even thinner air, pausing often to fill my lungs. The short breaks offer long rewards: unbroken vistas across glacier-riddled peaks and the Andes beyond. Peru’s Cordillera Blanca could fill a page-a-day calendar with eye candy of pinnacled summits and milky-blue pools. It extends some 124 miles through Huascarán National Park, housing 722 glaciers and 882 lakes. It has so many lakes, in fact, that officials seemed to run out of names, numbering most of them instead. It makes trip planning difficult,…

1 min
take your time.

Find North Woods quiet in the Down East at this forested paradise. The Blue Hill Heritage Trust bought Caterpillar Hill in 2001, built some trails, and turned it into a positively idyllic weekend destination that’s so new to the scene, not even Google Maps knows about it. Thankfully, photographer Martin Radigan does—and he’s willing to share his spots. The best way to explore the white pine and red spruce forest is by linking the area’s three loop trails into a 1.5-miler: From Caterpillar Hill Road, follow a path lined with blueberry thickets (fruiting in August) through a meadow that pops with goldenrods in early summer. Descend into coastal woods, where neon-green moss carpets every surface and a boardwalk keeps your boots dry. On the return, spy the Camden Hills and…

2 min
easy does it car camping

MY CAMPFIRE FLASHES and flickers on the massive rocks behind it, casting warm light on my quiet site. There’s room for more tents here, but I’m alone, camped on the broad shoulder of a peak in the Eastern Sierra where Fourteeners fan away in both directions. When the flames fade, the snowy teeth of the ridgeline above my camp glow in the moonlight. There’s not a trace of light pollution—until I open the door to my car and the dome light clicks on. Though it feels like it, this isn’t the backcountry at all. I’m a 10-minute drive down a network of dirt roads from fast-asleep Lone Pine, California. Even so, I’m more alone here than I was in the true backcountry of Yosemite a few days ago. This isn’t car camping…