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Backpacker September 2016

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
the big short

NOT MANY TRAVELERS get off the train at Zermatt, Switzerland, and feel disappointed. The Alps hot spot lies at the head of a steep-sided valley at the foot of the Matterhorn. It’s a car-free zone, which keeps the air clear and the narrow streets quiet. The glacier-fed Vispa River courses through the center of town, and hiking paths start where the pavement ends. By any measure, it’s one of the world’s best trail towns (see our top stateside picks on page 84). But I felt a pang of dissatisfaction when I arrived there last June. My wife, three kids, and I had taken the short train ride from Täsch, and I was excited for them to experience the picturesque alpine village I remembered from a trip there 30 years earlier. Then…

3 min

Overheard Scott Jurek’s record-setting Appalachian Trail journey (“Walk Hard,” June 2016) was one of the biggest endurance stories of 2015—but as Rhiannon Woodruff notes, most observers missed out on some important details, like the personal struggle that drove Scott and his wife Jenny to tackle the challenge. “I was on the trail when I heard about him finishing and getting into trouble with [Baxter State Park],” she writes. “It sounded like he had willfully broken rules just to set a record. So glad to hear the real story.” Gimme Shelter With new shelter designs, backpackers can go feather-light without sacrificing protection (page 52). We asked our Facebook followers: How do you prefer to sleep on the trail? Backtracking In our roundup of the national parks’ best campsites (“Sleeping Beauties”, June 2016), we suggested that readers planning…

1 min
summit season

Dream Peaks We asked our Facebook fans to share their must-do mountains. “Borah Peak, Idaho’s high point, in the Lost River Range”—Brandon Hardin “Mt. St. Helens. The goal this year is to do the trail around it in two days. Next year, I’ll climb it.”—Bobbie Netling “Mt. Tom, in the Sierra Nevada above Bishop, California”—Daniel Arnold A Field Guide to Summit Shots Nowadays, no summit is official until it’s on Instagram. But like the app’s filters, there are only so many options you can choose from in selecting your mountaintop pose. We scoured our followers and friends’ feeds and identified these six archetypes. The Captain Christin Healy Shenandoah National Park The Furry Friend Steve Yocum Pisgah National Forest The YMCA David de Costa Eldorado National Forest The Jumper Mallory Belknap Phoenix Mts. Preserve The Foot Locker Jessica Gorton Yosemite National Park The Plank Matthew Tufts Cachoeirão, Brazil…

1 min
the play list

1 Wring every second out of summer. CABOT, VERMONT Timing is everything. Most of the hiking season, you can’t access this view from 1,683-foot Nichol’s Ledge over its namesake pond and backdrop of pristine forest: It’s closed May through August to protect nesting peregrine falcons, which makes now the perfect time to climb it. Nichol’s Ledge is an “in the know kind of spot,” says photographer Kurt Budliger. And know this: At the end of summer (September 22), the sun sets around 6:45 p.m.—a few minutes later up here. Knock out the .8-mile climb (gaining just 250 or so feet) from the trailhead off Coit’s Pond Road for a prime vantage of the setting season. Contactbit.do/nichols-ledge…

4 min
crown jewel: san juan mountains, colorado

INSIDER’S 2 GUIDE The insider Photojournalist Donna Ikenberry became a master of peaks while authoring three editions of Hiking Colorado’s Weminuche and South San Juan Wilderness Areas. “What I love about this place is that you never look down and see a city,” she says. “There are no roads, nothing manmade. All you see are mountains.” Wild week Mostly above treeline, this 51.4-mile section of the Continental Divide Trail cuts across the South San Juan Wilderness from Cumbres Pass to Elwood Pass, winding past meadows smothered with summer blossoms, ice-blue tarns, and a string of Thirteeners. “Herds of elk and the occasional white-tailed ptarmigan make it extra-special,” Ikenberry says. Drop a vehicle at Elwood Pass (no commercial shuttles available) and tackle the route in five days, camping at Trail Lake, Blue Lake, the Adams…

5 min
canoe camping

WE ROUND THE CORNER of the narrowing bay and all at once stop talking. Our canoes glide on soundlessly, our focus on the moose standing belly deep in the lake munching wet wreaths of vegetation. If he minds our gawking, he doesn’t let on. With great antlers nodding and ears flicking, he looks more curious than threatened. We driftclose enough to see the cloud of flies swarming his back. “That’s enough, boys,” says Steve, our trip leader. “It’s our third moose today and we have miles to go.” He’s right. Despite the lure of the spectacle, we have to make 20 miles today to stay on track on our 800-mile expedition across the Albany River region of northern Ontario—five weeks by paddle stroke and portage. Some people look at a canoe and…