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Backpacker September 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

4 min
trail fails

THE MANZANITA BUSHES grew head-high and covered the slope ahead. The dense, thorny branches were like a tangle of barbed wire, and there was no way around. It was like they’d been planted there to defend the gully we aimed to enter. We needed chain mail, but were wearing T-shirts. I contemplated the wall of razor-sharp vegetation and considered just how little my girlfriend Jen liked bushwhacking, even without thorns. Should we abandon the hike? Anyone who does enough backpacking knows that things don’t always go as expected. After all, if backcountry travel could be scripted, it wouldn’t be an adventure. Surprises are the special sauce of the outdoors, but they can also lead to some pretty demoralizing moments. That’s why we’ve devoted a feature in this issue to stories of hikes…

2 min

Bitter Brew In response to our April round-up of readers’ favorite trail beers, Reilly Stewart wrote in with a complaint. “The majority were the currently trendy IPA variety,” he said. “Call me a grumpy old man (my wife does), but why is there no beer that has some character, like a darker brew?” We hear you, Reilly. Beer writer Jonathan Shikes recommends PCT Porter from Crux Fermentation Project. Find more of his picks for the Pacific Crest Trail’s best beers at backpacker.com/pctbeers. • • • • • Feel the Power @backpackermag Tag your ’grams #trailchat for a chance to be featured here and on our Instagram feed. @Gabriel.Gorman [Háifoss, Iceland] This waterfall on the edge of southern Iceland’s highlands is accessible by a short scramble, but Gabriel Gorman saved it for the end of a 14-mile hike…

1 min
hit the high country.

This month’s top trips and picks Every season has its virtues when you’re a backpacker, but it’s hard to beat late summer in the mountains. The wildlife is active. The berries are fruiting. The daytime temps invite mid-hike dips (but it’s cold enough at night to warrant cocooning). And, perhaps best of all, this year’s record snowpack will have melted out enough to reveal alpine prizes like Lake Anna, nestled in a red-rock cirque below appropriately named Mt. Temple. It’s only 4.5 miles to this pool, but the going is steep and, toward the end, off-trail, so only savvy navigators should try. From the Long Canyon trailhead, climb roughly 4 miles on trail (gaining more than 3,000 feet) until you’re due north of Lake Anna, at the base of a steep gully.…

4 min
water’s edge pictured rocks national lakeshore, michigan

The insider Few can claim to know the nooks and crannies of Michigan’s wild Lake Superior shoreline better than Michael Neiger. After decades spent exploring the region as a volunteer canoeing and backpacking guide for groups like the Sierra Club, a lead investigator for Michigan Backcountry Search and Rescue, and author of Exploring Pictured Rocks: West Half, Neiger has logged nearly as many days in “the bush” as he has in civilization. Top dayhike The loop circling Chapel and Mosquito Beaches is “the best cliffside hiking in the Midwest,” Neiger says—and that’s not even the half of it. This 10.4-miler also encompasses a pair of waterfalls, wavy sandstone formations, and pristine, singing-sand beaches. From the Chapel Road trailhead, hike counterclockwise through abundant patches of orange-yellow jewelweed (blooming late summer into fall) to 60-foot…

3 min
the long way home: returns

→ PEOPLE SAY YOU CAN NEVER go back because places change and so do you. On day four of a 100-plus-mile trek from Arizona’s Santa Catalina to Rincon mountains, I wonder if I should have heeded that warning. We’re not even halfway there. Last time we were already home celebrating by now. That was 40 years ago. We were college students then. David and I had met in the university hiking club, and we started accumulating mountain memories in the conifer-topped “desert islands” around Tucson. Over Christmas break in 1975, David, three friends, and I planned to cross the stairstep Catalinas, bushwhack to the Rincons, and end on the far side of that range. That was the extent of our planning, and our motivation was just as loose. We wanted to…

1 min
increase your vocabulary

Match the animal to the group name and the hike where you can spot them. FIND US Alligators 3.1-mile La Chua Trail, Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, FL Turkey Vultures 2.7-mile Bluff Ridge Trail, Frontenac State Park, MN Cormorants 2.6-mile Tolleston Dunes Trail, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, IN Bats 4-mile Orient Mine Trail, Orient Land Trust, CO Bears 24.3-mile Balsam Mountain Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN/NC Lizards 65-mile Backbone Trail, Santa Monica Mountains NRA, CA Porcupines 7.4-mile Finger Lakes Trail, Finger Lakes National Forest, NY Owls 6.5-mile Pronghorn Loop Trail, Soapstone Prairie Natural Area, CO ANSWERS 1. ALLIGATORS // CONGREGATION 2. TURKEY VULTURES // WAKE 3. CORMORANTS // GULP 4. BATS // CLOUD 5. BEARS // SLEUTH 6. LIZARDS // LOUNGE 7. PORCUPINES // PRICKLE 8. OWLS // PARLIAMENT PHOTO BY DAVE SHOWALTER. TEXT BY RACHEL ZURER (VOCAB)…