If you are a trekking lover, the north of Italy with its thousands of trails is the ideal place to go.
Whether you decide to go trekking in the Alps, Dolomites or Friulian Dolomites, the scenery will always be spectacular and full of pleasant encounters such as deer, eagles, marmots, cows and goats… and yes! Sometimes you can find bears but is very rare to meet them.
In Italy the flags to follow in the paths are white and red, and usually very well marked so don’t worry and always follow the rule n.1 “never leave the path”.
Here my top 5 of the most beautiful Treks in the north of Italy divided into regions:
Trekking in FRIULI VENEZIA GIULIA
L’anello delle Dolomiti Friulane – The ring of the Friulian Dolomites
In the middle of the less known dolomites is an incredible 4-day trek that reaches the Pacherini, Pordenone, Padova and Giaf shelters where you can sleep and refresh yourself. You will cross the wonderful and wild valleys of the unknown groups of Pramaggiore, Monfalconi, Spalti di Toro and Cridola.
Prepare yourself on high altitude walks, to the overcoming of many forks at several meters in altitude more than once a day, to established paths and the trek along the beautiful gentian trail and under the symbol of this region: the “Campanile di Val montanaia”. Breathless.
Have a look at a video I made from this area:
Il sentiero degli Scalini – The path of the stairs
The Passo dei Scalini Trail is located in the Western Julian Alps and is part of the Jof Fuart group. Starts from Sella Nevea at 1180 m. and arrives at the passo of the Scalini at 2022 meters in 3 hours between woods, alpine huts where the cheese is produced, waterfalls and high altitude views. Carrying on you can arrive at the Corsi Hut at 1874 meters. This shelter is an amazing red building totally surrounded by a semicircle mountain range and hundreds of rock goats.
The walk is not so difficult but long so if you are not trained for this when you arrive at the top turn yourself around and come back.
Trekking in VENETO
Trekking from Cortina D’ampezzo to the Croda da Lago alpine Hut
Cortina d’Ampezzo is one of the most famous and glamorous alpine destinations in Italy in summer and winter. During their winter season many famous sky races are organized here and in the amazing summer time it is possible to explore the dolomites through some amazing paths.
This trek is not so difficult but gives you the chance to see stunning views in just 4 hours of walking. The Hut is at 2042 meters but keep walking to the lake above, as the peaks of the mountains reflected in the calm waters of the alpine lake are something to be seen once in a lifetime.
Trekking in TRENTINO ALTO ADIGE
Trekking in the Dolomites high panoramic view – Alta via panoramica delle Dolomiti
This itinerary offers one of the most beautiful scenic views that you can admire throughout the Dolomite area! The first part of the trek can also be walked with kids until the hut in 1.5 hours, but the second part is recommended only for trained hikers. From the Valcroce mountain station you climb up Bressanone and through the pastures you reach the Rossalm hut, after which you could proceed to the “Gampenwiesen” meadows.
An amazing trekking that give you the chance to visit Bressanone as well, famous for having the majority population speaking German, for the beautiful churches and gardens, bridges and fountains and its spas. Really recommended!
Trekking the Tre cime di Lavardo from Misurina Lake – Le tre cime di Lavaredo dal lago Misurina
If you only have to choose one of these treks I will not make it difficult to choose this one. The tour of the three peaks of Lavaredo is one of the most beautiful landscaping trekking in Italy. It starts already, from 2320 meters, from the Rifugio Auronzo which can be reached by car and rises up to 2454 meters in 4/5 hours. You can find more info here from the official site: http://www.tre-cime.info/it/sesto/sesto/vivere-sesto/tre-cime-di-lavaredo-unesco.html
The Dolomites have been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site so you can imagine which shows with different scenarios await you.
Italy is famous for the sea but the mountains are also amazing and the food you can find there is healthy and at zero kilometer. This means that milk, butter, meat and vegetables are produced in the same valley you stay during your holiday. Beyond the support you give to the farmers, you can eat fresh food without preservatives and additives.
Sleeping and eating in alpine huts helps small communities to stay alive and to allow us to have unique place to stay. Another cool thing is that all the treks in Italy are managed and maintained by volunteers for free so spend time in this little villages is really important for the Alpine villages.
Alessia Morello lives in the north-east of Italy. After working for several years around the world she decide to stop and come back in her homeland and do the things she loves like trekking into the Dolomites with her dog Giorgino and creating posts and videos for her blog. She grew up doing outdoor adventures with the family and now the nature is part of her life. Other interests? Rock climbing, mountain bike trails, cooking vegetarian recipes and having fun!
Imagine leaping into a fresh-water stream, feeling the icy shock as you plunge in and the buzz as you warm back up again… the most energizing feeling in the world! Stepping into the wild opens the opportunity to discover the world’s stunning beauty, and maybe even encounter rare wildlife too! On top of that, it’s proven to boost your body and mind. So what are you waiting for?
OK, so maybe that all sounds terrifying. Don’t worry though, it did to me once too, you’re not alone!
That’s exactly why I’ve gathered all the useful tips that we here at getcampingwild.com have learned so far about how to start backpacking. So, before you know it, your inner intrepid-explorer will be unleashed!
A Trail Map
Before grabbing your backpack, pick up the map instead. The easiest way to work out what you’ll need is to know where you’re going.
My best advice for getting started is to stay local, because discovering how easily you can access the wild wonders on your doorstep instantly gives you a native feel for how to start backpacking! If you still need some more inspiration, check out our post on The Most Famous Seasonal Campgrounds and see if you can spot one near you.
We’ve been asked a lot of questions about how to start backpacking over the years, like….
Backpacking – will it be hot or cold?
In the wild, this decision is totally up to Mother Nature, and she’s famously unpredictable. But you can get one up on her, and here’s how…
Check your weather forecast
We bet you’re super familiar with the seasons in your region, but keeping an eye on the forecast means you’ll be aware of any freak storms threatening your trip!
Use your map to estimate your altitude
The temperature drops 3.5°F for every 1000 ft you climb, and mountainous areas are known to have a climate of their own, too. When a warm sunny day becomes a hailstorm in minutes – don’t get caught without a raincoat, it’s not fun!
So, What should I wear?
When you are a five-hour trek into the wilderness, there is no hiding from the elements. If it’s cold, you need to stay warm in it, and if it’s boiling you need to be able to cool down. The solution? It’s all in what your wear…
Base layers – long johns and thermal vests are designed to keep your body heat in and the cold out. They’re cheap and easy to find in the underwear section of your closest shopping mall
Sports shirts – made from lightweight, breathable and fast drying fabric, you can get a bargain in discount sports stores
Long pants – either jogging or light trekking ones to protect your legs from stings, scratches and bites.
Small sweater – one of your ‘layers’ for intricate temperature control
Fleece – as warm and cosy as four small sweaters!
Raincoat – make sure it’s a strong, lightweight and breathable one
Plastic poncho – yep, just like those ones you get at waterparks and festivals, they’re unbeatable in sudden downpours!
Hiking shoes – you’ll need fairly firm ones to tackle the undergrowth, but don’t get the heaviest, as they’ll slow you down
Socks – specialised walking socks are vital for your first backpacking trip because they’re made from a silky fabric, so they keep your feet both dry and blister-free
cotton undies/sports bra – your most comfy pairs!
Swimsuit – ready for that freshwater dip!
Hat – be sure to protect your head in sun or snow!
How can you actually carry your whole life on your back though?
None of us are secretly snails. The trick is to simply bring all that you need and ABSOLUTELY nothing more. No really, or you’ll regret it – this is one of the biggest and hardest decisions for how to start backpacking! Especially when experts recommend carrying 30% of your body weight with you. For me, 30% of my body weight is 42 lbs, which is 19kg or litres, and I know I’ll be whining if I walk for five hours carrying that much! So I usually aim for just 15%.
Top tip – weigh your bag after you pack, then weigh it again when you’ve repacked!
Another mistake beginners make is shouldering all their weight. If you do that, we bet you’ll never want to go backpacking again! For a happy and healthy hike, make sure your backpack has a waist strap to carry the load, and an adjustable back to fit you.
Top tip – borrow from a friend for your first trip to keep costs down!
What do you eat and drink?
Bear Grylls might be happy to tuck into meals of bugs and berries, but we reckon you’ll be craving something a little less squirmy! After all, you’ll be burning plenty of calories, so make sure you get three square meals a day, plus a few snacks to sweeten your rest stops!
Here’s our team’s top trail menu, and all you need is a mini campstove, a metal cup with a lid, and a spork…
Breakfast: Instant oatmeal (add honey and raisins for extra goodness!) and a sachet of instant coffee
Morning snack: packet of mixed fruits and nuts or cereal bar
Lunch: Saltines, spread with Nutella or peanut butter, plus your favorite chips and a piece of fruit (apples and oranges have good backpack survival rates)
Afternoon treat: your favorite sweets, whether it’s gummy bears or fizzy worms, they’ll give you the boost you need (marathon runners do it!)
Dinner: Freeze dried packet meals are available in camping shops and just require a little heating, but a packet of instant noodles or pasta will also replace those much-needed carbs!
Top tip: Whatever you decide to bring on your first how to start backpacking trip, and every trip after that, make sure it’s sealed, lightweight, packed full of nutrients and doesn’t need refrigeration. Check out our post 7 Easy Foods For Camping’ for more ideas!
What about water?
Well, it’s a fact that you’ll need to drink much more than you can carry on day one, and another reason why your map is so important. When planning your route, trek via water sources like fresh springs or streams, then purify the water before you drink it.
Top tip: Boiling water for at least a minute kills the bacteria and saves you carrying a fancy filtration kit!
How does the sleeping part work?
There aren’t likely to be organised campsites in the wilderness, so you get to decide which patch of nature to call home for the night!
Step 1. Choose a spot
It is generally advised to sleep near the trail, but not on it – about 100 yards away should be fine. Make sure you don’t block a water access point!
Step 2. Check the terrain
There’s nothing worse than bedding down on spiky rocks, so choose somewhere peaty or leafy
Step 3. Pitch your tent
Be sure to check you have all the parts before you leave home!
Step 4. Get out your sleeping gear
Don’t leave home without a sleeping pad (I use my yoga mat). I’ll let you into a ‘how to start backpacking’ secret; although this is the most important insulating layer between you and the cold ground, some experienced campers don’t realise it!
You should also take a small pillow and sleeping bag to cosy up in. They come in sizes for each season – but the warmer the bag, the heavier it is. When choosing, estimate your nighttime temperature and match it to the range of the sleeping bag. Sleep tight!
Need to know
Now that you’re bursting full of top tips about how to start backpacking, there are a few more things to bear in mind (get it?!)
Did you know that you should:
Always give way to people going uphill
Never light a fire unless it’s allowed in your area
Pick up any rubbish you see, to save the landscape for future visitors, and for the creatures who call it home
For your first ever backpacking trip, we recommend going with a friend or a guide who knows their fauna from their flora. But if you go it alone and you get lost – don’t panic. Retrace your steps to the last place you recognise.
It’s also really important to make sure you’re in good shape before the trip – going running, swimming or working out in the gym is great for you anyway, but it can also be the difference between a good trip or an incredible trip!
And finally, you’ll be glowing with the accomplishment of having earned every single one of those fantastic views! So, take these steps towards how to start backpacking, and get out there to begin your own fantastic original adventure!
“Why have I never used these before?!” I quietly exclaimed to myself as I skipped down the side of an ice-covered ridge in Yosemite National Park. Rather than boulder-hopping and mountain-goating from stone to stone as I had on my way up the mountain, I was suddenly free to move, parading over frozen streams and mini-waterfalls with the grace of a Bolshoi dancer. The reason? Microspikes.
I’m not entirely sure why it took me so long to buy a pair, or why my little forest-obsessed heart was so afraid and untrusting of winter gear in general. Perhaps Southern California had begun to make a permanent impression, declaring all things cold to be untrustworthy cohorts of the Norse gods, or perhaps I just hadn’t found the right winter monkey posse to push me past my comfort zone. In any case, I am now a convert to the religion of microspikes!
In case you’re new to the scene, like me, here’s the scoop: microspikes are a step down from crampons, tiny sets of metal spikes attached to rubber that quickly and easily snaps up and around your regular hiking boots. They’re mostly used for hiking and mountaineering when ice may be present on the trail and the slope is not greater than 25-30 degrees. The best part? They aren’t like other winter gear that costs $100 or more! One set of these on Amazon will only set you back about $30, and they work like a dream. I bought the Uelfbaby set with 19 spikes, and I couldn’t be happier. Getting out in the fresh powder atop a frost-bitten cliff in Yosemite has made my Scandinavian bones begin to crave the chilly thrill of winter sports. Snowshoeing, frozen ascents, and cross-country skiing are all in my near future, thanks to the wake up call these little foot bayonets provided. I think this may be the beginning of a tremendously fun and gear-centric snow season! Does anyone have an ice-axe I can borrow?? 😉
I confess: I’m a sucker for a good story with a strong heroine, and we’re not talking Scarlett O’Hara here. We’re talking that rare breed of female lead that somehow seems to elude most mainstream media, disproportionate to the number of male protagonists that dominate our literary landscape and cultural narratives.
Although this topic has become of great interest to me in the last few years, I have tended to shy away from addressing it, frankly because I don’t want to be pegged as some feminazi whining about the patriarchy. That’s not why I’m writing this. I am writing it because I think there are a lot of other people out there — men and women alike — who enjoy hearing the stories of female characters just as much as I do, and just as much as we all like stories about male characters.
I will be the first to admit that some of my favorite stories of all time center around the dude protagonist. Anyone who knows me knows that Into the Wild was one of my biggest inspirations for going to Alaska myself, and before that, Kingbird Highway fueled my teenage obsession with birdwatching and hitchhiking.
In my early naïveté, I wanted so badly to have the adventures that Chris McCandless and Kenn Kaufman had in their solo treks across the US, following in the legacies of even earlier explorers like Lewis & Clark and John Muir. But I was always torn between the dichotomy of being told I can accomplish anything I want, and that I am more limited because I am a woman, vulnerable by default.
Oddly enough, I never actually experienced the gender bias myself until I moved to Alaska. Growing up in a family of strong women and graduating near the top of my class in college, nothing ever held me back, though I was aware that my privilege was unique. Yet suddenly when I embarked on my own life of adventure, everyone seemed concerned for my safety and success, probably more so than they would have if I was a big, burly dude. And for good reason.
In rural Alaska, I found myself in a man’s world. For the first time in my life, I was being called at in the streets, followed occasionally when I went out for a walk, offered drinks, sex, and even marriage, and told I was “beautiful” or “cute” by complete strangers. Most of these things are easy to avoid or ignore, but it brought to light the unique challenges faced by female travelers — challenges that possibly make their stories all the more compelling, because they are being dealt with in addition to the usual adversities of any other adventurer.
My experience has been similar. When I’m in uniform as a park ranger, I’m occasionally met with surprise when people find out I’m from so far away, or that I travel just for the experience of it. “Why would you want to come all the way up to Alaska?” or “Why did you leave?” or “You’re so brave to do this by yourself.” One older lady even said to me (I kid you not), “It’s so interesting they’re letting women do this now. I met another young female park ranger this year, and I just couldn’t believe it!” A lot of people still have an antiquated view of the mustached man with pith helmet, so the idea that travelers today can be any one of us is quite a different pill to swallow.
Are female adventurers less common than their male counterparts, or simply less noticed? Sometimes I think the latter may be true, which is perhaps why I’m so intrigued by their stories when I do hear them. If you are too, check out some the following and feel free to share some of your own favorite heroine books and movies in the comments.
Book and Film | Wild
“Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves…” ― Cheryl Strayed
I first heard about this book in the summer of 2013, being criticized for similar reasons that Chris McCandless was criticized for in Into the Wild. In many ways, the story is the same, only this time it’s a woman who goes into the wilderness to escape demons of her past, ill-prepared and misguided in her efforts and judgment. It’s great! It’s raw and honest and lays everything out in the open. Unlike McCandless though (spoiler ahead!), author Cheryl Strayed does not succumb to the deadly forces of nature, and instead lives on to write this memoir. It’s exciting, yet a realistic look at the challenges and torture of hiking over 1,000 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail with no prior experience. The movie adaptation starring Reese Witherspoon came out in 2014, and did a surprisingly good job of capturing the spirit of the book. My one qualm with it was that it focused more on Strayed’s emotional grappling with her past and less with her experiences on the trail than did the book. I would have liked to see more of her trail stories depicted, but perhaps that’s a good argument for both reading the book and seeing the movie – you can get a good taste of both that way.
Book | The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost
This book far exceeded my expectations, capturing the very essence of the coming of age journey that so many young woman travelers experience. I wish I had read it about 7 years ago, when I first traveled abroad. It is the story of Rachel Friedman, a college student who finds her love of travel after spontaneously spending a summer waitressing in Ireland. There, she meets a free-spirited Australian woman who inspires Rachel to spend the next year traveling for the sake of the experience, and together they encounter wild adventurers across three continents, as the title suggests.
It’s a fun read, relatable for anyone who has ever fantasized about traveling the world with their best friend but has absolutely no idea where to start or how to do it. Instead of worrying about that though, Rachel learns to just go for it, inspiring the reader that anyone can do the same.
Book | Life List
Life List is particularly interesting because it is the true story of a woman who finds her adventurous side after raising a family and spending some 30 years as a humble housewife. At the age of 50, after being misdiagnosed with only a year left to live, Phoebe Snetsinger sets out to turn her hobby of birdwatching into the most exciting quest of her life. She ends up spending the next 18 years traveling the world in search of rarer and rarer bird species. Although she often takes guided birding tours in each place she goes, her journey is far from sheltered, as she encounters accidents, a kidnapping, and malaria among other misfortunes. But despite all this, Phoebe is never deterred and it is truly her enthusiasm, commitment, and perseverance that makes this such a compelling read.
Film | Open Road
This fascinating little film tells the story of a young Brazilian artist who lives a solitary and nomadic lifestyle, on a journey of self-discovery. It has a definite independent film-vibe, excellent character development, and a dash of mystery as the story unfolds and the heroine struggles with the desire for human connections while also holding herself at a distance from others. I think it’s a common struggle for many young people who take off on their own, and this film does a good job of taking you along on the journey without revealing it all too fast. It’s a bit slow-paced and the scenes are acted out so naturally you could almost forget you’re watching a film.
Film and Book | Tracks:
“The two important things that I did learn were that you are as powerful and strong as you allow yourself to be, and that the most difficult part of any endeavour is taking the first step, making the first decision.” ― Robyn Davidson
Literally, it’s a true story about a girl in the 1970s who decides to walk 1,700 miles across the Australian desert with 4 camels and her dog. What’s not to love about that? The book has been out for a long time, but I’ve only seen the movie so far and it immediately became one of my favorite movies I’ve ever seen. Like so many other stories of this caliber, it has a number of flashback scenes alluding to Robyn Davidson’s troubled past, but unlike some of the other stories, these don’t seem to completely dominate her motivation for her journey. Ultimately, she is simply on a quest to prove to herself that she can do it. As a character, Robyn is fascinating and you can’t help but empathize with her: she does what she needs to get what she wants, but rejects offers from others to accompany her on her trip because she wants to have the experience alone. Without giving too much away (because you really HAVE to watch this film), she finds that in some sense, shared experiences are what make life worthwhile — and survivable.
While I am continuously building up my personal library of strong heroine stories, I will leave you with these for now. I invite others to share their favorite heroine stories as well — and most of all, I hope you will be inspired to go out and live your own. Adventure on!
Enjoyed this article by Andrea? You can see more of her work on her website.
In 1996 I met an author who would change my life and never even know it. His name is David Brill, and he is a freelance writer for men’s magazines. He spoke to a writer’s group I was in about his thru hike of the Appalachian Trail in the 1970’s because he had just written a book about it 20 years later. The title of the book is As Far as the Eye Can See and it includes excerpts from his journal as well as his thoughts looking back on his experience.
The day he came to speak to my writer’s group about this book, I had the worst hangover. I had never hiked a day in my life and I had never even heard of the Appalachian Trail, even though I grew up in Kentucky only three hours away. I had decided that if “this guy” wasn’t interesting, I was going to leave and go back to bed. David Brill spoke for about 5 minutes before I realized the magnitude of what he had accomplished, and I was hooked. My hangover was gone. I had to do this.
I bought his book for a whopping ten dollars, got him to sign it, and when everyone else left, he and I were left. He took time to answer my questions. He also asked me if I preferred bourbon or whiskey. I wreaked of alcohol, but no longer felt my hangover. I was excited! I had a goal!
It was seven years later, in 2003, before I actually completed my thru hike. I never even set foot on a trail until 2000, and never carried a backpack until 2001! But I never lost sight of my goal, and on March 25, 2003, I began a journey that would instill an insatiable wanderlust in me that I still haven’t satisfied. On September 3rd, I summited Katahdin in Maine. This day is more important to me than my birthday, especially now that I’m over (cough, cough), uhh, let’s say 40 and leave it at that.
I had a lot to learn before hiking 2,172 miles with what would eventually be whittled down to a 20-pound pack. Here’s what I did to get ready, including some mistakes I made. My dog, Oscar, even got in the action, although he was not exactly an outdoorsman. He made sure to sample the beef jerky though.
Let’s Get Started!
My first consideration when preparing for the Appalachian Trail was about experience. I had never hiked or backpacked or even camped really. There was a lot to learn and that meant getting prepared and getting out in the wilderness to learn how to use my gear. I joined a hiking club and met a lot of people who knew a lot more than I did about backpacking, sleeping, and eating in the wilderness. I went on many weekend trips with them in southern Arizona and western New Mexico. It rained on almost all of those trips, and my friend Steve said I was cursed. Here we were in the Southern Arizona desert, and it rained every damn time I went on a camping trip with The Ramblers, and never when I didn’t. I felt pretty prepared for rain when I started the AT.
Boy, was I wrong! Nothing could have prepared me for that much rain! 2003 is still the wettest year on record for an AT hike. Lucky me. My big toes looked like white prunes for three months. But that’s not what this post is about! If you’re planning a long-distance hike, or just curious how to prepare for one, read on.
A lot of people think they need to be in great shape physically before starting the Appalachian Trail, but that’s not necessarily the case. The trail conditions you, no matter what shape you’re in when you start. But your chances of a successful thru-hike will improve if you aren’t struggling physically at the beginning. One of the best ways to get in good physical condition for hiking is by going hiking. Surprise! Carry your pack, wear your shoes, and get out in the wilderness to walk over roots and climb over boulders. Then go out the next weekend and do the same thing.
I did day hikes with a fully loaded backpack even when I had no intention of camping. As I walked, I took a mental inventory of everything in my pack and how I could make it lighter. My first pack was an Osprey I found on sale at the local outfitter in Tucson. Great pack, but heavy! It weighed 7 pounds! A pack for the AT shouldn’t weigh more than 3 pounds, but it took experience and trial and error – and money – for me to figure that out.
There I go, talking about gear. I love gear. Gear is an important part of preparing for the Appalachian Trail, but preparing mentally is just as important. Even avid backpackers and campers can struggle mentally to keep going, to take that next step over that next rock or climb that next boulder. Even the most experienced might weep at the sight of yet another false summit. I was far from experienced, so I expected some mentally tough days, and I was right.
My longest backpacking and camping trip before I hit the AT was four days and four nights in the Gila Wilderness of New Mexico (yes, it rained!), and I planned and completed those four nights and days on purpose. I read somewhere that if you could hike and camp four days and nights in a row, you could complete a successful thru-hike. My friend Steve, a fellow Rambler, and I planned a trip. He said he expected it would rain since I was going. He was right. It was just the two of us. The nights were below freezing. My shoes were wet from trekking in the snow (and rain!) and frozen hard as a rock every morning. I slept with my bladder of water inside my sleeping bag to keep it from freezing. Can’t say I loved hiking and camping on this trip. Love of hiking and camping came later, on the AT.
Preparing physically, whether by hiking, running, weight lifting, yoga, whatever you like to do, can help to prepare you mentally. Just keep going. Most of the time, hiking on the AT really is what you will want to do that day. Hey, beats working, right?
Money. A huge consideration. During a thru-hike, you most likely won’t be earning any unless your stocks are doing better than mine were. Fortunately, lodging along the AT for the entire 2100+ miles is free if you want it to be. I met two Canadians in 2003 who I don’t think spent even one night in town. They each finished their thru-hike spending less than $1000 each. It can be done, but not by me. I enjoy a night in town occasionally, to sleep in a bed, eat restaurant food, and restock at a blindingly bright grocery store filled with temptations I couldn’t carry and people who smelled like soap, which I did not.
As you research town stops along the way, you’ll start to get an idea of how much money you might need to get you through your hike from start to finish. Your biggest expense will be food. You will eat a lot, even while you’re hiking! You will walk or hitchhike out of your way, off the trail, just to get a restaurant meal of fat, cheese, grease, carbs, protein, and quite possibly other things that you would never consider eating if you had not just walked 20 miles with all of your belongings on your back. That said, you won’t spend much money on anything else if you purchased your gear and shoes before you started walking.
Plan to Eat!
There are two theories on resupplying food. The most popular is just to resupply along the way in town stops and buy enough to get you through to the next town stop. In my opinion, this is the least expensive and least troublesome way to resupply. I, however, didn’t figure that out until I’d completed about half the trail. I resupplied along the way, but I also used resupply boxes I packed before I started – a lot of them – and got them weighed and paid postage, and then left them with my sister to mail to me along the way. The problem with this is I probably spent more money doing it this way and, well, plans change. I didn’t even use all the boxes.
Packing these boxes after a trip to Costco was an adventure in itself. I had a small kitchen and no dining room table, so these boxes were everywhere. I came home one day to find a couple of them on the floor and the beef jerky packages torn open! Guess who worked really hard to knock those boxes off the counter? Yeah, my little 20-pound Oscar! He was fat and happy on the sofa when I got home, and I found beef jerky all over the apartment for the next two weeks. He’d hidden it away for later! Lesson learned. Keep your resupply boxes in a room with a door that closes! I had to forgive him though. He stayed with my sister (another sister) during my trek, and had to be neutered at age 13 while I was out having the time of my life.
Even with resupply boxes, I still had to buy certain items along the way. One advantage to having resupply boxes sent to post offices along the way is that if there are certain things you really like, or if someone wants to send you homemade goods, as my family did, then they can put them in the boxes. My sister sent me two dozen chocolate chip cookies, an entire pineapple upside down cake, and a loaf of sourdough bread in one box. Between me and two other thru-hikers, none of it made it past the post office porch.
Resupply boxes add another element of planning that, in my opinion, is unnecessary. There are plenty of opportunities to resupply and vary your diet along the way. Some things you will never get tired of are easily found in towns, like Hershey bars. They travel well in a backpack and no matter how many times they melt in that foil wrapper, they’ll still be good at the end the of a 20-mile day.
Plan to Sleep
Hotels and some hostels are another expense you’re likely to be tempted with. An actual bed, a shower, and a place to dry out your stuff is a welcome change for most hikers. Most hostels are either work-for-stay or very cheap. Hotels can range from $30 a night to very expensive in larger towns if you want to go that route. This is where having a guidebook comes in really handy for planning. I have another post about AT Guidebooks. Town stops are important for several reasons, but you can decide how many of them you want to make and how much time you want to spend in town. Keep in mind, the more time in town, the more temptation to spend money, and eat two pints of Ben & Jerry’s in one sitting. I don’t recommend that.
I saved $3500 to get me through my hike and the next month after it since I wasn’t going back to work right away. I had plenty of town stops and luxuries, including beer and restaurant food, along the way, and still had money to get me through the month of September before going back to work as a teacher. Even though that was 13 years ago, I still think $3500 is more than most thru-hikers start out with.
It’s Time. You’re Ready. Do It.
One last comment on preparing for the Appalachian Trail. Learn from others. Check out www.trailjournals.com and learn from others. Read their accounts. Read your guidebooks. You can read more about guidebooks in my post Appalachian Trail Guidebooks. Buy your gear and use it, especially in the rain. Then get dropped off at Springer Mountain and hike your hike. It’ll be the greatest experience of your life.
For many of us, there is nothing like going into the great outdoors to get away from the stress and strife of modern-day life. Unfortunately, however, while being out in the wilderness is great to unwind, it’s still nice to have some connection to the outside world, which is why we also bring our phones with us. However, trying to get reception can be a huge pain, and if you ever lose your device while out in the woods, it can be almost impossible to retrieve it. For that reason, we are going to go over what to do if you lose your communication and how to find your phone with AVG if it is lost.
If you are worried about losing your signal while out camping, you can plan ahead by bringing other devices that can offer you cell service no matter where you are. These include mobile wireless routers, cell phone boosters, and portable battery chargers to help you maintain access to your device at all times. These are the best ways to stay connected, but that doesn’t mean they are the only ones.
If You Lose Signal
For those that didn’t plan ahead, you can help improve your signal in a couple of ways. First, you can find a clear, elevated area that can give you more direct access to a signal, or you can craft your own makeshift antenna. Chip cans and aluminum foil can help boost your phone’s range if you know what you’re doing. Fortunately, there are plenty of tutorials out there that can help.
Losing Your Phone
If the worst happens and you misplace your device while camping, all is not lost. If you have AVG as your Android security and antivirus, then you can track your phone’s location, even if it’s off. This will help you pinpoint where exactly you left your phone so that you can retrieve it. Fortunately, if it’s in the woods somewhere, then you shouldn’t have to worry about someone stealing it.
Overall, the best way to keep your phone in tip-top shape while camping is to plan ahead and have AVG antivirus installed beforehand.
Many of us live for the time when we get to experience the outdoors. We are constantly planning the next great escape from the city to again be at peace with the serenity, majesty and wonder of nature.
Often in our pressured, busy lives it is so easy to forget a few things that would make our experience in nature all the better. How many times can you recall running late to get away from your routine and in your rush, you overlooked things you wished you hadn’t? If you’re anything like me (human, that is), then you can surely relate.
And let’s face it. On some outings, be they for a short or a long while, there can be so many things to remember, depending on what you are doing and who you are doing it with.
So with the above in mind, a few Camping for Women contributors have come up with some checklists to help make our planning and getting things together a little easier. There are 6 checklists that we have put up initially and more will be added to in the future.
Enjoy the Free Checklists!
The totally free checklists that have been prepared for anyone to download and use below:
The Hiking and Backpacking Checklist by Lynley Joyce
You can also tailor these checklists by adding other things that may be particular to your circumstances, activity or location.
And in the future, Camping for Women plans to add to these checklists with different activities that readers tell us are useful. Future free checklists and any updates to these initial lists will always be accessible from the Resources tab at Camping for Women.
You will be able to download which ever free checklists you like in future directly by going here.
We sincerely hope you get great value out from these checklists and that they save you some time and hassle that often goes with forgetting to take something that you really felt you needed to have.
Be sure to share this resource with your family and friends who love the great outdoors too!
I spent seven years as a backcountry ranger in northern British Columbia, and one of the question I got asked the most was, “do you carry a gun out there?” They seemed genuinely concerned when I told them that I usually just carried bear spray.
To many folks in the north, and I’m sure wherever gun culture is prevalent, bear spray is seen as something a gimmick. I can understand that. I have been approached by an angry grizzly, and let me tell you, that can of bear spray made me feel a little like I’d shown up to a formal ball in my Pjs.
Yet here I am, years later still traipsing around bear country without a gun. Here’s why.
Effectiveness of bear spray
This may be counterintuitive, but bear spray does work better at deterring bears than firearms. It’s nasty stuff, and when an animal with the sense of smell 100 times more powerful than a human’s gets a face-full of it, it’ll usually stop its charge immediately. Bears, particularly grizzlies, often continue their attack, even after a fatal shot. It’s not surprising then that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service report that around 50% of people using firearms in a grizzly encounter still suffered injuries. Those using bear spray suffered from much fewer and less severe injuries.
A 2008 study by biologist Tom Smith looked at 600 bear encounters in Alaska. Bear spray proved 92% effective in the 72 cases that it was used. Four years later, Smith did another study in 2012 looking at bear encounters involving firearms. Depending on how you interpret the study, firearms were somewhere between 58% and 76% effective.
Speed and Ease of Use
Even a good marksman or markswoman will take at least a few seconds to unsling a gun, chamber a round, aim, and fire. Even if you are in ready position with your gun, simply aiming is going to take longer than unholstering a can of bear spray. To make matters worse, a bad shot may just make a bear angrier. Add to that the panic that comes with being face-to-face with and angry apex predator, and I’d say your chances are a lot better with bear spray.
Carrying too much weight isn’t just unpleasant, it can be dangerous. If you are fatigued, you are going to be less aware of your surrounding, less likely to make noise, and slower to react in the event of a bear encounter.
A 12-gauge shotgun is going to weigh 6 or 7 lbs. Compare that to 8-11oz for a canister of bear and there is no contest. While a lighter gun may stand up against a black bear, a grizzly needs some serious power to bring it down.
Just because a bear is angry at you doesn’t make it an evil creature that needs to die. Remember, you are in its home, and it’s usually just defending itself. Sometimes it’s only approaching out of curiosity, and spraying it will simply teach it that humans are best avoided.
That being said a predatory, habituated, or unusually aggressive bears should be reported to the appropriate authorities so they can take action if necessary.
No matter how safe you are with your firearm, it’s hard to predict what kind of bad decisions you’ll make if you are panicked. There are plenty of stories of people inadvertently shooting themselves or their partners while hurrying to get a shot at the bear.
What about Wind and the Short Range?
In good conditions, bear spray should shoot at least 16 feet, but some brands will shoot further. This may seem uncomfortably close, but a bear further away will likely decide you aren’t worth the trouble before it actually attacks. You can also spray a bit earlier to make a cloud for the bear to run through.
In the Smith study, only five of the bear spray cases were effected by wind, and the spray still hit their target. You may get sprayed a little yourself, but it’s a small price to pay.
It’s now legal in many U.S. national parks to carry a firearms, but the ruling is still subject to state laws. Here in Canada it is illegal to carry firearms (with some exceptions for polar bears) in national parks. Oddly, it is also illegal to carry bear spray in Yosemite, so if you plan on hiking there, bring your bear sense.
Things to Note
Now I want to make a few points clear. Carrying any form of bear defence does not replace the need to use your bear sense. Always make noise while hiking, stay aware of your surroundings, avoid hiking alone, keep you camp free of food smell, and know what to do in a bear encounter to avoid an attack.
Also, no matter what you choose to carry, know how to use it. If you choose bear spray, practice unholstering your bear spray and removing the safety, and ALWAYS keep it somewhere where you can grab it. Should you have an expired canister, practice discharging it. If you choose a gun, make sure it’s going to be powerful enough and practice getting it ready and taking aim in a variety of situations.
Hiking is a wonderful activity to do with someone you love. If you and your partner both love to hike, it can be fun to bring a bit more romance into your hiking adventures. With that in mind, we’ve come up with a few ideas for little romantic gestures you can do to really make your significant other feel loved, even when you’re out on the trail!
Plan A Surprise Romantic Getaway
While it’s great to plan and organize a hike, there’s something really nice about not really having to do the planning, but still getting to enjoy the hike. So, one simple but romantic gesture you might want to do for your partner is to plan a surprise getaway that includes a few really nice hikes. You could go just for the day, or a few days, and either visit somewhere that has been a favourite of yours as a couple, or somewhere they’ve never been. You take care of all the details, and just encourage them to pack a bag and come along for an adventure!
Bring An Unexpected Snack
If you’re going on a hike with your partner, a short-notice but effective romantic gesture you can do is to bring an unexpected snack with you. Now, there are lots of foods that people consider to be romantic, but here you need to think about portability and preferences. Chocolate dipped strawberries are great, as long as you keep the chocolate separate in a small, sealed container. A pair of small bottles of wine make a great surprise, or champagne to celebrate a relationship milestone. Even a small selection of cheese and crackers can really make them feel loved and appreciated.
See The Best Of Nature
There are so many lovely things out there in the world, so many things to see and enjoy. But you can’t argue that it’s nicer to do them with someone by your side. So, if you’re looking for something romantic to do, try and see some of the best natural wonders in your area. Whether they’re a natural landmark, a stunning sunrise, a gorgeous sunset, or a sky full of stars, take your partner out into nature to see the best that’s on offer. Spend an evening stargazing and searching for falling stars and satellites, or pack a thermos of tea and watch the sun rise or set. It’s sure to be a hike to remember.
Go On A Geocaching Adventure
Doing something together with your partner is a great way to further cement your bond. So, while you both might enjoy hiking it can be even more fun to hike with a specific goal in mind. If you’ve climbed a few mountains and you’ve completed the hikes in your area, have a go at them again with geocaching in mind. If you’ve never heard of geocaching, it’s basically a treasure hunt you do with GPS. People hide containers, called ‘caches’, and you have to find them. Many people lay the caches out along hiking trails, allowing you to enjoy the hike and collect the caches. For a truly romantic gesture, organize to lay a cache yourself, and name it in honour of your partner! You can also read more about geocaching in our article about it here.
Walk A Heart
This is one for the forward thinkers, which might not be easily pulled off but is sure to make a statement. Encourage your partner to install, and then use, a fitness tracker app under the pretense of seeing how far you have walked and how fast. You could also use a GPS. Then take them on a hike that you’ve planned in the shape of a love heart. You’ll need some basic plotting skills for this, but you can easily program the hike into your GPS. For extra points, have the start/end point of the hike at a gorgeous spot where you can enjoy the sights and sounds of the wild.
The Joshua Tree Park is considered as a magical and massive desert land, which is about 790,000 square acres. And speaking about the desert, here you need to know that there is absolutely no electricity, no lights, no food service and mobile receptions. Water is a scarce resource, so when coming here make sure that you bring enough to last during your visit. Luckily, there are toilets available, however, they’re not the flushing type, so you better be prepared.
Feed Your Soul with Creativity
Joshua Tree is the home of numerous artists, and many visitors are inspired by the artworks created by these amazing individuals. From the Farmers Market to the different Art Galleries scattered around the place, you’ll definitely feel the creative juices flowing.
Visiting the town proper is an amazing part of the Joshua Tree camping experience. In this area, you’ll be able to find various restaurants, boutiques and shops, as well as music events and galleries. The Downtown area is situated on the corner of Park Boulevard and Highway 62.
The citizens of Joshua Tree have been going the beyond the limits in preserving the authenticity of the place. For this reason, you won’t be able to find any fast food chains, or high rise buildings or even the famous malls and super stores. Exploring the place will give you a different sixties feel while helping the locals in promoting their own products and their local economy.
Take Advantage of the Annual Pass
As soon as you arrive at the Park entrance, you will have the choice of getting a day pass or the annual pass. If you want to be able to fully appreciate and enjoy the Joshua Tree Park, you need to obtain the annual pass, as you will have the advantage of getting into the Park for free over the next 12 months.
It is a must that you ask for a map and be updated via their newsletters so you will be informed on the latest happenings across the park. Having the annual pass will also give you the advantage to cut in line and get in faster as a priority guest.
Enjoy your Stay at the Campsites
Staying over and camping at Joshua Tree will give you the chance to sleep and experience the amazing night view brought about by the billions of stars. Start the morning and be amazed by the breathtaking view of the California desert. You may also be in awe as you can hear the coyotes howling from a distance.
Over 300 campsites are scattered within the boundaries of the park, so you just need to choose your own spot and spend the night there. The camping fee is usually around 15 dollars. You have to know that running water and electricity are non-existent in the park, so you do need to bring everything you might need.
Explore the Intersection and Arch Rocks
When you are coming from the west entrance of the Joshua Tree, the Intersection Rock should be your first stop. This is the perfect place to check your maps and plan your destinations and activities for the day. This rock is situated about on the center of the various highlights of the park. You can also follow the available trails and explore more around the area.
On the other hand, entering through the North or South of Joshua Tree, you will have the Arch Rock as your first major pit stop. Following the trails nearby is also a great idea, but you won’t need to worry about getting lost since all the paths will eventually lead towards the camping ground.
Ask for a Guide
No matter what type of activity you intend to do, especially if you are a beginner, it is better to seek help from a guide. These guides will aid you in a more enjoyable and safer adventure in the park.
Joshua Tree offers an incredible and unique adventure for you and your family or friends. You will be able to enjoy the different and creative culture of the place; therefore, it is important to plan the trip carefully. Make the most out of every event and the views offered by this majestic place. In the end, you will surely come back for more, as the people living here really go for the extra mile in providing an enjoyable and memorable experience for every traveler.