Category Archives: Trip reports

Book Review: “Walks of a Lifetime: Extraordinary Hikes From Around the World”

Book Review: Walks of a Lifetime: Extraordinary Hikes From Around the World

by Robert and Martha Manning, Falcon Press, 2017.

Hurrah! Another elegant invitation from the Mannings to ordinary folks to try long distance walking!

Martha and Robert Manning on the Kumado Kodo Pilgrimage Walk, Japan, Courtesy Robert Manning

Walks of a Lifetime (2017), like the Manning’s first guidebook, Walking Distance (2013), alternates compelling descriptions of 30 exceptional walks around the world with brief essays on aspects of walking. With these intelligent companion volumes, Robert and Martha Manning are now firmly established as discerning and trusted guides to some of the world’s best walks.  Their approach goes way beyond your typical “trail guide”.

Essays in Walks of a Lifetime delightfully amplify themes in the walk chapters, connect the reader to the larger world of long distance walking, and inspire closer attention to the world we walk.  The 30 topics include trail angels, pilgrimage, urban walking, philanthropic walking, place, and the philosophy and ethics of walking.  The authors celebrate the joys of advance research, discuss how to prepare and how to enjoy serendipitous “misadventures” along the way, and offer advice on answering the inevitable question, “how long will it take?”.  Further, they explore the expanded field around walking by musing on ecotourism, health, walking as political statement, walking as art, and they contemplate the existential conundrum of journey vs. the destination.

Each walk portrait presents the sort of information that never goes out of date, for example natural and cultural history, land management context, weather and terrain.  Descriptions are useful, satisfying, but hardly exhaustive.  Instead, the reader will be stimulated toward further research, and to embrace walking as a process of life-long learning. Robert contributes knowledges honed by decades of research and teaching on national parks around the world, and he also provides hundreds of high quality photos.  Martha, an artist, speaks and writes as an astute observer full of practical advice.  Both husband and wife have an eye for natural beauty, topography, and unique landscape features.  They also share their infectious enjoyment of people, culture and cuisine.   Specifically, the walk descriptions include:

  • Orientation to the landscape and its natural history, including geology, wildlife, botany, weather, soils, bodies of water, etc.;
  • Cultural highlights of each area, including history, archaeology, museums, culinary traditions, agriculture, architecture, language, thermal baths, and local lore;
  • The context of the trail/traverse: how the trail came to be, how it operates, nearby and connecting trails, the challenges and unique features of the parks and natural areas it traverses, the broader trail system and walking culture of the nation/region in which it exists; and
  • Photographs that visually define each experience.

And, of course, practical information and advice is included:

  • Getting to the trail head and back, getting around in the region;
  • Availability of food, water, accommodations, bathrooms, campsites, etc.;
  • How to hike the trail in sections, other possible modifications, and adjacent trails;
  • Level of difficulty, type of terrain, safety considerations, and tips about gear;
  • Trail protocols (important do’s and don’ts) and environmental ethics.

In Walks of a Lifetime the authors expand our concept of long distance walking beyond hiking remote woods and tramping distant fields to include sauntering through some of the world’s most populous cities (Sydney, New York, Paris and San Francisco).  They also include a range of bucolic to backcountry walks in places like Arizona, Hawaii, Georgia, Utah, Colorado, Maine, N.H., China, France, New Zealand, Italy, Portugal, Japan, Scotland, England and Wales.  And they take us on treks in some of the most isolated locations in the USA such as Denali in Alaska, Havasu Canyon and Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness in Arizona, and Popo Agie Wilderness in Wyoming.

The Manning’s continued emphasis on long distance walks for ordinary people is a refreshing corrective to the current craze for “through hiking” on such trails as the Pacific Crest and Appalachian Trail.  Such hikes, requiring months of time and almost superhuman effort, are not for ordinary people. This book is a tonic for the rest of us.  In fact, in Walks of a Lifetime, the Mannings offer even gentler and more accessible walks than in their previous guide.  They include four urban saunters, and also describe a higher proportion of domestic (U.S.) walks (seventeen) than in the 2013 volume (twelve).  As to level of difficulty, this latest guide includes seven walks of low challenge (compared with two in the previous book) and eight that are categorized as high challenge (compared with twelve in the previous book).

Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, an Urban Walk, Courtesy Robert Manning

The latest volume is published by Falcon Press, a specialist in trail guides.  The earlier guide, published by Oregon State University Press includes an index, further reading suggestions at the end of each chapter, a bibliography, and a sprinkling of sparkling quotations throughout.  The Falcon Press publication omits these extras.  I missed these.

One quibble: the maps in Walks of a Lifetime are extremely rudimentary.  While providing the highly detailed topo maps necessary for walking the walk is clearly not within the scope of this guide, better maps would definitely aid in amplifying the author’s text and in supporting the walker’s planning.  Falcon Press is capable of doing better by its authors and readers.

Readers new to long distance walking will find themselves in good hands as they select a walk and plan for their first trip.  Experienced walkers will enjoy perusing the options shared by the well-travelled and insightful authors. Written with intelligence, grace and gentle humor, the Manning’s two guides are perfect gifts for friends and family.  Each volume effectively encourages new readers to get off the chair, take a long walk, and savor the wonders of nature and culture at a slow pace.  Both guides are also highly recommended for libraries serving communities with interest in outdoor recreation.

Sam Demas, October 2017

Trip Report: Three Sisters Backcountry Hut-to-Hut Ski

Trip Report: Three Sisters Backcountry Nordic Traverse

By Perrin Boyd

The Three Sisters Backcountry hut-to-hut ski traverse is a self-guided 22-mile trek from Dutchman Flat near Mt. Bachelor traveling the eastern edge of the Three Sisters Wilderness boundary to Three Creeks Snow Park outside Sisters, Oregon.  This great ski adventure involves three days of skiing with overnights in two comfy, fully stocked, self-service huts.

Six friends from Northfield, MN gathered the night before our trip for a feast and discussion of logistics. Kelly, Mike, Sofia and I now live in Bend, Oregon.  Sam Demas, researcher for hut2hut.info, invited us all on the trek along with his wife, Laurel.  It was an opportunity we could not pass up. Continue reading

Alta Via 1 (Italy) Trip Report

ALTA VIA 1

The route I’m about to describe is not the full Alta Via 1, but an adaptation to fit it in one full week. This route is also known by the name Alte Via Dell Adamello. It is a 8 day hike and 1 resting day, 9 days in total. It is possible to skip the resting day if you are fit.The route starts out easy and gets tougher every passing day. This helps the participants that aren’t that experienced in this terrain to prepare before getting into the heavy stuff. It is possible to do the route the other way around, although it might get a bit boring at the end. If I have to repeat the route I would do it again south to north. I walked this route in 2016 and it might not all be the same in a year’s time. Also a different time of year or different weather might make that you will experience this route completely different.  

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Island Trek in the Azores & Eco-Cottages

ISLAND TREK IN THE AZORES

“To awaken in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world” — Freya Stark

Island Trek in the AzoresI wake up to the sound of the surf — waves crashing on rocks somewhere outside my window.  As I come out of my dreamstate I remember that today is a day for walking.  Not just any walk at that — the Grand Route of Santa Maria Island in the Azores is in my sights for the next five days.  The “Grande Trilho Santa Maria” is about 80 kilometers (50 miles) of walking around the circumference of the island with a hike up over the highest peak on the island, Pico Alto, thrown in for good measure.

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Hut-to-Hut in Mallorca, Spain: trip report

{Note: this trip report contains many beautiful photographs.  Keep on scrolling as you enjoy them and you’ll come to more
of the text of the article interspersed among them.–Sam}

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

I love the idea of long-range hiking routes. Typically arranged to support multi-day itineraries, these kinds of routes let you go out and lose yourself on the trail (Note: not the same as getting lost). My latest look into the world of long-range hiking routes had me checking out Spain’s “GR” or Gran Recorrido routes. There are 13 GR routes in Spain and two of them, GR221 and GR222 are located on the island of Mallorca.

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Five Long Distance Walks in UK: Trip Report

Preview of Long Distance Walks

By Brian Tyler, AFIChemE, Cheshire, England

{Editors note: This 47 page report of five walks is from a family memoir by Brian Tyler, father of my friend Simon Tyler.  Brian – a truly peripatetic professor and chemist – estimates he has walked some 75,000 miles over his more than 80 years on earth, cycled at least 50,000 miles, and run about 4,600 miles. This chatty and informative chapter from his memoir details five walks taken between 1975 and 1999.  It gives a feel for each walk, provides useful information (though some is doubtless out-of-date)  and reveals his sharp eye for historical detail.  His photographs have a family album feel and add greatly to the text.  When I read this report I was enchanted by how it compellingly tells the story of one man’s long walks over time.  Brian kindly agreed to my request to include it on hut2hut.info as a unique example of how walking fits into a life well lived. – Sam Demas, October 2016}

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Yosemite High Sierra Camps Trip Report

Yosemite Camp CabinsYOSEMITE HIGH SIERRA CAMPS — AUGUST 2016

By Rachael Swift

I recently completed a 6 day, 5 night ranger-guided group hut-to-hut hike to four of the Yosemite High Sierra Camps.  I was accompanied by my husband Bill and our 23 year old son Tom. We started at Tuolumne Meadows Lodge and from there hiked to Sunrise, Merced Lake, Vogelsang, and then back to Tuolumne Meadows Lodge. We did not go to the camps at May Lake or Glen Aulin which I am now really looking forward to seeing at some future time.

Reservations are by lottery through the National Parks Service concessionaire website.

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Trip Report: Pilgrimage to Iona

By Hut2Hut Pilgrimage Editor Amanda Wagstaff

Iona-Abbey-View

View of the abbey complex on Iona © Amanda Wagstaff 2016

I arrived in Glasgow and immediately realized that I was overdressed. It was only the first of June, but a spell of cloudless summer weather had overtaken the west of Scotland. As I walked across town with my backpack, I could feel sweat dripping down my face and the beginnings of sunburn on my neck. I was a mess by the time I reached Queen Street Station.

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Trip Report: Kerry Way, Ireland

Trip Report: Kerry Way

May 2016

Overview: The Kerry Way affords beautiful coastal views, passes through upland moors and bucolic agricultural areas, and passes under Ireland’s highest mountain and one if its most spectacular mountains ranges, the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks. The full Kerry Way is 130 miles long, beginning at Killarney and proceeding inland towards Glenbeigh, after which the trail generally follows at a distance the shoreline of the Inervagh Peninsula and circles back to Killarney.  Walkers usually allow 9 or more days for the full walk, though it can be done more quickly by very strong walkers.   Having only four days for this walk, I cut out certain sections and hitch-hiked ahead to get a sense of the range of terrains covered.  This was a research trip so I stopped fairly often to talk with people who work on the trail.  The trail passes many villages and accommodations are plentiful. 

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Burren Way Trip Report

Burren Way Trip Report

By Sam Demas

Overview:

As part of my research for a “Country Study” of long distance walking in Ireland, I walked much of this 132km classic Irish National Long Distance Waymarked Way through the sublime Burren landscape.  While this walk is 73% on little-used roads due to access rights limitations, it passes through a magical cultural and natural landscape abounding in historical, archaeological, botanical, geological, and habitat features.  The Burren is part of the UNESCO recognised Burren & Cliffs of Moher Geopark.  In addition to walking on the Way, its well worthwhile to depart from the Waymarked Way to take in some of the excellent National Looped Walks and nearby features. This is a brief sketch of the route I took and some wonders encountered.

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