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Backpacker September 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
Back issues only

in this issue

4 min
higher education

WHEN GEORGE MALLORY was preparing for his third attempt on Mt. Everest in 1923, a reporter asked him why he wanted to climb the mountain. “Because it’s there,” he famously answered. I thought about Mallory’s response as we worked on this special issue celebrating mountains. I appreciate how few words he needed to end the debate about motivation: We are drawn to peaks, and we don’t need to justify it. But after decades of my own adventures on mountains big and small, I also appreciate what Mallory’s economical reply left out: You learn a lot when climbing peaks. With apologies to my kindergarten teacher, I believe I’ve learned my most important lessons above treeline. AIM HIGH In the mountains, as in life, there’s a fine line between ambitious and foolhardy. If you have…

1 min

Hikeover Country If it’s ever finished, the Great Plains Trail will be nothing like our country’s other long paths; it cuts across the rolling plains of Middle America rather than vast western mountains or dense eastern forests. As we found out when we shared our profile of trail pioneer Steve Myers (“Walking to the Horizon,” June 2018), that kind of scenery appeals to some backpackers more than others. “Every state in this country has its own type of beauty,” Jessica Hubbard wrote on Facebook. Phillip Stretch Baker was less enthused. “I’ve driven through flyover states and don’t see the incentive to hike there,” he said. “You walk miles to see the same thing you saw at the start of the day.” But Anne P. O’Brien, who was getting ready for a…

1 min
1 come into season. pemigewasset wilderness, new hampshire

September is undisputedly the best month when it comes to peakbagging in the White Mountains. Gone are the days of ice, mud, humidity, and bugs. Instead, good tread and predictable weather patterns reign. And here, in the southern corner of the Pemigewasset, you get an added bonus: a first look at fall. From 4,682-foot Mt. Carrigain, scan north to see the taller Presidential Range, which will light up in reds and yellows beginning the third week of September. The best way to get here is on a 13.5-mile lollipop-loop from the Signal Ridge trailhead. Follow the Signal Ridge Trail 1.7 miles northwest to a junction and the start of the loop. From there, it’s best to go counterclockwise (climbing the steepest section, which is easier on the knees). Split off onto…

4 min
2 waterfront property alpine lakes wilderness, washington

THE INSIDER Craig Romano likes to say hiking is his livelihood. The author of more than 20 outdoor guidebooks, he has walked more than 25,000 miles in Washington alone for research. His latest goal? Discovering off-the-beaten-path trips in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, which, just one hour from Seattle, is rightly popular with Pacific Northwest hikers. WEEKEND SOLITUDE The Enchantments, on the north side of the 400,000-acre wilderness, attract hikers like ants to honey, leaving the nearby Chain and Doelle (“dool-ee”) Lakes comparatively vacant. The 24-mile out-and-back there follows the Pacific Crest Trail from Stevens Pass for 4.9 miles before veering south onto the Icicle Creek Trail at fir- and cedar-trimmed Josephine Lake. Head 3.2 miles down the valley before turning east up the Chain Lakes Trail and climbing 2,000 feet to the first…

1 min
3 grow your life list.

Here at BACKPACKER, we’ve been mining the country for the best backpacking trips for more than 40 years. That’s a lot of time spent on lonely trails, so we’re a little snobby when it comes to campsites. But we like sharing. In our latest book, Hidden Gems, we give you the country’s 100 best backpacking trips that you haven’t heard of. You won’t find the John Muir Trail or the Narrows in here, but you will find a lifetime’s worth of undiscovered lakes, quiet summits, and, well, hidden gems. Get a copy ($28; falcon.com) wherever books are sold.…

4 min
4 a superior trail

THE MORNING SUN fills our tent with light, and the warm rays have never been more welcome. Yesterday, our first full day of hiking, was a rough one. The rain fell in sideways sheets, nearly drowning our long-awaited end-to-end hike of Isle Royale, the least-visited national park in the contiguous United States. One foot in front of the other, my husband Bruce and I had marched rather than hiked, our faces lowered away from the deluge. The water pooled in muddy moose prints, evidence of the island’s largest residents. Upended thimbleberries, knocked free by the torrent, scattered across the trail, fat and full of water like tiny, red Solo cups. The 43-mile Greenstone Ridge Trail follows the spine of Isle Royale, the largest in a 450-island archipelago comprising the national park of…