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Backpacker November 2017

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

1 min

Classic Gear The pages of this issue are full of innovative new gear (see page 45 for our editors’ top picks). But we know some of the best equipment never becomes obsolete. When we asked our Twitter followers to share their oldest backpacking gear with us, Dorothee Benz sung the praises of her 1993 MSR WhisperLite stove, which she said is “as reliable now as it was then.” Craig Solomon has been wearing his green EMS zip-up fleece since 1989, when he picked it up for a NOLS trip in Alaska. (“Still fits,” he noted.) Brion W. Gallagher keeps his Camp Trails Horizon Knapsack with Astral Cruiser frame from 1970 around. Kevin Reavy offered a different take on what he’s still glad to be using: “My feet,” he wrote. • • •…

1 min

NEEDLES DISTRICT, CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARK, UTAH Discover a different kind of fall color in the desert. Here, amid the 200-foot-tall sandstone spindles of Canyonlands’ Needles District, the soft autumn light paints red and orange slickrock new shades of pink and purple. Embrace the idyllic fall conditions (daytime temps in the 50s and nighttime temps in the 30s) in one of the Southwest’s best playgrounds on the Peekaboo Trail: From Squaw Flat, head 5 straightforward miles south to Peekaboo Camp ($30; reservation required). The easy logistics—by Canyonlands standards— mean more time for exploring the area’s diverse terrain and ruins. “Every turn on the trail brings a new adventure and obstacle,” says photographer Jason Lewandowski. “You trudge through a sandy wash, then you climb a steel ladder in a narrow slot to get…

3 min
oasis of rock

Granite domes, long-limbed cacti, prehistoric wildlife, and legendary night skies should land this park on every hiker’s bucket list, so beat the spring rush by going now. We bet mild temps, quiet trails, and late blooms will leave you thinking November is the sleeper season, after all. • • • • • The insider In more than a decade living in the area, Ethan Peck has probed every inch of J_Tree, a national park larger than Rhode Island. His guide service, Joshua Tree Adventures, specializes in taking visitors hiking in the less popular parts of the park. Sign us up. Choose-your-own adventure The trails in Joshua Tree seldom intersect in ways that are conducive to making loops. Thankfully, the desert doesn’t always require a trail. Access Peck’s favorite route from the Geology Tour trailhead. The…

1 min
hike your own hike

▪ Nail a start date. Apply for permits for the PCT and CDT. ▪ Tell everyone. That means family, friends, and colleagues. Figure out your work exit strategy. ▪ Get fit. Go on training walks, slowly ramping up mileage and pack weight. ▪ Research gear. Resist the urge to impulse-buy based on other hikers’ tips. What works for others might not work for you. Use practice hikes to learn more about your style and preferences. ▪ Go easy on food prep. Dehydrating is fun, but unless you have a restrictive diet, you’ll want the flexibility to adapt to your changing appetite and taste. ▪ Study up. Learn about your long trail through documentaries, books,and trip reports. ▪ Firm up logistics. Buy plane tickets and shuttle rides to the trailhead. Reserve a hotel room. Get more tips and…

3 min
the highest order

WE CLINKED BEERS in front of the refugio’s crackling _ replace just 24 hours ago. Our view of the steppe was broad and brimming with the excitement and possibility that radiates off the world’s most mind-bending scenery. What a difference a day makes. Now, trudging through the Ascencio Valley, 10 miles into the Patagonian wilderness, a warm _ re seems like something from another world. I can barely see a few feet into the storm clouds that whip in from the Southern Ocean. We’re three couples from three continents, all drawn to this antipodal extreme by the chance to skirt past calving glaciers, Caribbean-blue lakes, and granite massifs. For us, the W trek—a five-day, 50-mile journey through Chile’s famed Torres Del Paine National Park—promises Patagonia on a budget. With a well-marked path…

2 min
play hide-and-seek

EASIEST TO FIND to HARDEST TO FIND White-tailed Ptarmigan | Mountain West Ptarmigans aren’t hibernators, but they’re excellent hiders. When winter rolls around, this brown bird turns white and grows an extra patch of feathers around its feet. Though these wintry birds will likely be out in the open, they’re hard to spot unless they’re moving. • • • • • Striped Skunk | North America Like black bears, the striped skunk enters a state of “torpor,” a light form of hibernation. Unlike bears, skunks will den together, grouping males that would otherwise fight it out under warmer circumstances. During torpor, they sometimes raise themselves from dreamland for a mid-sleep snack. • • • • • Black Bear | North America All across the country, bears are taking cover from the cold in hollow trees and small caves…