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Susan Alcorn's Backpacking Tales and Tips Newsletters 2019

 All Newsletters 2019 , 2018 , 2017 , 2016 , 2015 , 2014 , 2013 , 2012 , 2011 , 2010 , 2009 , 2008 , 2007 , 2006 , 2005 , 2004

Shepherd Canyon Books
25 Southwood Court
Oakland, CA  94611
   email backpack45 at

Publisher of "We're in the Mountains Not over the Hill--Tales and Tips from Seasoned Women Backpackers."

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Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales and Tips #238 January 2019.  Happy New Year!


(photo: first walk of the year: Richmond-San Rafael Bridge/San Pablo Bay, CA) 


  1. Reaching trailheads of the Pacific Crest Trail
  2. “It's Ruckin time!!!”
  3. Hospitalero (host) training courses with American Pilgrims
  4. Hiking/backpacking equipment reviews
  5. Climber Arlene Blum joins the elite group of California Hall of Fame inductees
  6. Earthworms unite!


1.  #1. The Pacific Crest Trail Association has an article on how to get to trailheads along the trail. Especially helpful if you are a section-hiker that needs to reenter or leave the trail between hike. Reaching the PCT Trailheads. 

#2. The American Long Distance Hiking Association & the upcoming Rucks. The ALDHA-West has announced its upcoming Rucks. First is the NorCal Ruck, January 26, 2019, Oakland, CA. Following are the Cascades Ruck, February 23, 2019, Stevenson, WA (new venue just across the river from Cascade Locks!); Rockies Ruck, March 9, 2019, Golden, CO; Bellingham Ruck, March 23, 2019; Bellingham, WA; Inland NW Ruck, April 6,2019, Coeur d'Alene, ID. 

The Rucks take place in informal and relaxed settings with presenters providing very helpful information to participants. Hikers--whether newbies or experienced--will enjoy the camaraderie and reunions. The handful (not overwhelming you with their number!) of vendors offer innovative and practical camping gear, clothing, books and so forth.  The Ruck teams says, “we will have some new topics as well as a new format this year to include more breakout sessions, allowing for a more interactive and individualized experience!" and they’ll be talking about such topics as: Lightweight gear and hiking styles, How Not to Die, Women's specific, LNT and Trail Town Etiquette, and Reentry. The Pack Shakedown is interesting—experienced backpackers delve into newbies packs and make suggestions on where to cut pack weight and other practical advice. Follow this link to Ruck info

If you're not already a member of ALDHA-West, now is a great time to join; when you join you'll immediately become eligible to register for the Rucks at the member rate. Info on joining here

2017-06-18_18-30-54_7773_EOS.JPG#3. Hospitalero training courses! American Pilgrims has scheduled the next albergue host training for Tuesday, March 26 through Thursday, March 28, 2019 in Black Mountain, North Carolina near Asheville (directly before the Annual Gathering). The cost is $295, which includes the training, two nights' accommodations and all meals Tuesday evening through Thursday afternoon, and towels and linens provided. Last day to register is Monday, March 4th, or sooner if all the openings fill.  In order to be eligible for training as an hospitalero, applicants must have overnighted in at least three non-private (municipal, parochial or association-run) albergues on the Camino, must have walked at least 100 km (or biked 200 km) of the Camino, and must be a member of American Pilgrims on the Camino. Other rules apply: You must stay at the training facility. No off-site lodging. You must attend the entire training for certification so please plan your travel accordingly. At this link,, you can find out about registering for the training and other volunteer opportunities with the pilgrim community. (photo: albergue Le Chemin in Anthien, FR. on the Vezelay route.) 

#4. Treeline Review. Scott Williams, Shroomer, alerted me to the new Treeline Review, a blog by Liz Thomas “Snorkel” and an amazing group of outdoors writers and long distance hikers. The site, which reviews hiking, backpacking, and other outdoor clothing and gear, wades through the tons of material out there on zillions of sites and condenses it to create an “aggregated review process.” Currently at the top of the page are reviews on the “best tough cameras,” a folding Oru Kayak, and rain jackets (especially valuable this time of year!). Find Treeline Review site here. You can also follow them on Facebook at where you’ll find many reviews and also current information about how our planet is faring.

#5. Climber Arlene Blum enters the California’s Hall of Fame. Adventurer and scientist Arlene Blum, PhD has been inducted to the state’s hall of fame. At the Dec. 4 ceremony, Blum and other Californian of importance who have been honored this year by Governor Jerry Brown—Thomas Keller, Fernando Valenzuela, Joan Baez, Robert Redford, Nancy McFadden, Belva Davidson and late Mayor Ed Lee joined the elite group of previous honorees.

“Arlene Blum led the first American — and all-women’s — ascent of Annapurna I, one of the world’s most dangerous and difficult mountains.” When I read her first book, Annapurna: A Woman’s Place, I was enthralled. I knew her by reputation, but seeing her in person, as I did when I went to see a talk she gave as part of a UC Berkeley Travel series, I was amazed. She challenged my preconceptions (at the time) of a mountain climber—she was fit, but not tall and lanky. She was modest and humble, not a braggart. I became a real admirer. 

After her mountaineering days ended, Arlene Blum continued her work as a scientific researcher. She is a Research Associate in Chemistry at UC Berkeley. Her work led her to the discovery that the chemical tris, which was used in baby pajamas in the 1970s as a fire retardant, was harmful. It was subsequently removed, but Blum found that tris was still being used in furniture and baby products. That was not the end of her efforts to get this chemical and other hazardous chemicals out of our homes and environment. She founded the Green Science Policy Institute in 2008 in Berkeley, California.

#6. Let’s talk worms! In the Winter issue of Bay Nature (a beautiful magazine by the way) there is a very informative article about earthworms. For one thing, you may think that worms being hermaphrodites (having both male and female parts) can fertilize themselves, but that’s not quite how it all works. According to author Michael Ellis, that smooth area you see midway down the worm’s length is where the two worms hook up, create a slimy mass, and release their sperm. There’s more to learn at the link. Link here to the Bay Nature article. 

Susan Alcorn (aka Backpack45)

. I’d love to include your success stories and other items of interest with the hiking/backpacking and Camino communities. I encourage you to send them to me at for consideration.
Susan “backpack45” Alcorn

 All Newsletters 2019 , 2018 , 2017 , 2016 , 2015 , 2014 , 2013 , 2012 , 2011 , 2010 , 2009 , 2008 , 2007 , 2006 , 2005 , 2004

Emma Gatewood first hiked the entire 2160 mile Appalachian Trail at the age of 67.  She last hiked it at the age of 76.

Page Changed: January 6, 2019 14:45

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