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HIKER MIKE
HELPFUL HIKING HINTS


Timeshare Rental Destinations for Hikers

Sometimes you take a good old-fashioned backpacking adventure, and sometimes you travel with a group who prefers comfortable beds and 300-count sheets instead of tents and Thermarest pads!
If you're planning a trip to a place famed for its day hikes, consider a timeshare rental.
There are timeshares available for rent in the world's top hiking destinations, such as the Western part of the United States; South America; throughout Europe and Asia.
There are plenty of day hikes which offer views nearly as breathtaking as those you can reach only through the backcountry, and a good night's sleep in a comfy bed is never a detriment to a successful trip!
Please check out the website.


Dressing for Cold Weather - Layering and Boots

Every day is Hike Ontario Day for Hiker Mike because Hiker Mike hikes 2 hours every day.

Every Autumn we move into the cold and wet part of the year, so let’s talk about hiking attire, clothing and boots. The secret to comfy hiking is the layering of your clothing. Next to your skin is a cotton long-sleeved turtleneck, covered by a synthetic fleece or wool sweater, then a Goretex shell with a hood for wind and rain - try the Lowe Alpine triple ceramic jacket - pricey but good for life, and finally for those below zero days add a light down parka. There you have it. Cotton, fleece, Goretex and down.

You see hikers, as you heat up on the hike, strip off a layer and stash it in your backpack. Even your down jacket should squinch up into a little ball in the bottom.

Now that you’re dressed properly, how about a good sturdy pair of hiking boots. I can recommend 2 great lines, one of which is Solomon Extremes or Adventure boots, and the other is the New Balance Dunham Boots from Boston, who make those great Green Mountain hikers. Neither boot needs break-in time. Strap them on and hit the trail. Always carry some water and some chocolate and take along a change of Smart Wool socks to refresh your feet half way through the hike.

It’s all up there on the Tried and True page on the Hikermike.com website. Happy Hiking!


Helpful Hiking Hints - Advice to the Bootless

If you remember last weekend, Mother Nature dumped a ton of rain on us both Saturday and Sunday, so since I had to hike rain or shine, or else go snaky with excess energy, I decided to take a brand new pair of boots for a hike on the Bruce Trail, up Bolton/Palgrave way. The Bruce meanders amongst the Albion hills west of Highway 50, and you’ll find it crossing the Patterson Sideroad, the old Church road, heading north and east on its way through the Palgrave Forest. There are so many undiscovered sections of the Bruce up here, it’s like you can drive up any Sideroad and spot the bright White Blazes disappearing into the forest, and I found a beautiful section running between the Humber Station and the Gore Road, just north of the Finnerty Sideroad.

The boots I had taken were a pair of heavy duty backpackers with a steel shaft and a sole 2” thick that reminded me of a construction site steel toe that would take on any trail in North America and win hands down, and so I was pleasantly surprised when the big boots performed well on the level sections of the Bruce Trail - roomy and comfortable and easy to maneuver. Until I came to a slippery mud-slide section. Both boots came out from under me simultaneously and sent me careening helplessly to the bottom. I did manage to regain my balance but I noticed that the boot’s deep treads had filled with mud, making traction impossible. These big old clodhoppers also slipped and slid across a wet wooden bridge and I even went over on my ankles at one point. Doesn’t make sense does it? The leather uppers were lined with Goretex so my socks and feet were warm and dry, but the boots performed abysmally under wet and slippery conditions.

I won’t tell you the name of these boots but I surely won’t recommend them to you either. Just understand that big and heavy isn’t necessarily the best. Stay away from old-fashioned construction-type boots. Find a Salomon, Merrill or my favorite, New Balance, for lightness, flexibility and trrrraction on the trail.

The stuff and gear you see recommended on the hikermike.com tried and true Hall of Fame is just that. Boots clothing, and gear you can take to the bank, ‘cause we’ve taken it out on the trail and beaten the living daylights out of it. Any gear that doesn’t pass muster is sent packing back to the manufacturer with our suggestions of how to improve the product. we never keep the gear unless it works wonderfully, and then we ask if we can pay for it. Hiker Mike has no sponsor so I’m not beholding to anyone, so I can tell you truthfully what works out there on the Big Ball Trail, and what doesn’t.


Everest Trek - the right way

Namaste, hikers. That’s “Hi. How are you?” in Nepalese.

Nancy Reimer called me from St. Catherines with questions about hiking up from Khatmandu to the Everest Base Camp just below 20,000 feet.

After leaving the cozy confines of the Khatmandu Guest House buried deep in the heart of Thamel, the student district, the best route is straight up the Dud Kosi River through sherpa country to the beginnings of the Great Khumbu Glacier just above the tree line, then on to Gorak Shep and Kala Pataar, the little mountain in the center of a frozen lake which affords the hiker the absolute best 360’ panorama of all the biggest Himalayan monsters, including Lhotse, Nuptse, Everest, Tam Serku and Ama Dablam.
Most Everest trekkers don't know any better and let the tour operators sell them on the idea of flying into Lukla and the Sir Edmund Hilary Airport at 7,000 feet. This is a big mistake - first because it’ll cost you $300. for a 20-minute flight, and second your body will not acclimatize to the distinct lack of oxygen for the remainder of the climb, so you’ll be sick with nausea, headaches, and heart pounding for the journey to the Base Camp. Take it from Hiker Mike. The way to go is to walk in from Jiri, just outside Khatmandu.

You can take the bus from the Jiri trailhead for 2 bucks and spend the next 8 days tromping happily through the rice paddies, the rhododendron and pine forests and little lowland sherpa villages until you reach Lukla fully acclimatized and ready for the extremely arduous journey ahead. Also, what most trekkers don’t realize is that you don’t walk straight up the side of Everest from the lowlands of Khatmandu, but up and down over a series of foothills, each mountain range rising progressively higher until you descend behind the Buddhist temples of Tangboche, and step onto the Khumbu Glacier just beyond the tree line. Then it’s pretty much straight up through the ragged little villages of Pheriche, Dingboche, to Gorak Shep.

If you go alone, man or woman alike, it’s best to hire a porter guide to carry your bag and cook for you - about $50US a day - or you can carry your own damn bag and stay in the little restaurant lodges along the way. Much cheaper but women must wear long skirts and travel in pairs. Any more info can be readily had by calling Worldwide Adventures for a first class high end Everest Trek - be prepared to pay - at 416-633-5666, or if you’re an independent and adventurous hiker like myself who enjoys discovering on your own, or with a porter guide, call Joe Pilaar, my pal at Canadian Himalayan Expeditions at 416-360-4300. He knows all the sherpas who’ll safely take you to Base Camp. Either way, make sure you walk in from Khatmandu or else the lack of oxygen will have you dancing and emitting unattractive secretions from both ends of your spectrum simultaneously, and that my friends, isn’t any fun. Take it from one who’s been there!


Helpful Hiking Hint #23
- Night Hiking -

Can you feel it? Springtime? This is the time of year when the sap starts to run and we feel the springtime energy pulse through our veins. We've got to take advantage and ride this energy back to fitness by doubling up our hiking time.

We've got a group called the Urban Sherpas that get together every night at 10pm at various hiking venues around the Toronto area: usually well lit footpaths like the Rosedale Valley, the Cedarvale Beltline, or Cherry Beach, the Beaches Boardwalk or Sunnyside. Good and safe. Lots of hikers, bikers and sherpas on The Comeback Trail. We always get in about an hour and a half walk and we're back home in bed by midnight just in time for Politically Incorrect and, boy, do we sleep. And I'm so refreshed when I get up. Get your best pal and hit the Comeback Trail, and we'll all look like a million bucks this summer in our Speedo skin tight bathing suits. Hike every night for an hour and 'You're beauuuutiful, baybay'.


Helpful Hiking Hint #24
- Coyotes -

We were out on the Leslie Street Spit on a cold, clear star lit night, knee deep snow drifts on the road, and just as we came upon the channel bridge at the half-way point to the lighthouse, we were hit with the shrieking howl of an aggressive, protective coyote. The sound shot an arrow of primal fear through our hearts. Dave Bradstreet gasped audibly, Hiker Mike froze in his tracks, and Rupert the malamute climbed into the warm spot between my legs. This was definitely a 'Keep out' warning and it surely worked, because we immediately decided we'd gone far enough for one night.

This was truly a profound moment; when the call of the wild shouted out to the people of the city to go no further across the channel bridge and please, for once in our lives, leave the wildlife in peace.


Helpful Hiking Hint #25
- Wolves -

Speaking of howling coyotes, my friend Don Huff gave me a wonderful book called 'Wolf Country' 11 years tracking wolves in Algonquin Park. This amazing book is written by John and Mary Theberge who spent more than 30 years doing field research on wolf- pack behavior especially in Algonquin Park. John's a professor of ecology at the University of Waterloo and one of the founders of the Kluane National Park in the Yukon. He and his wife go into the forest and make friends with a wolf pack and through the use of radio collars they track the wolves and observe their behavior over the years. Wolf Country is a fascinating read and is published by McClelland and Stewart. Pick one up at Chapters.


Helpful Hiking Hint #26
- Hiking Books -

Bill Bryson's 'Walk In The Woods' - Hikers, if we were to play 'What's in my backpack right now' we'd find not only my Leatherman all purpose tool, my Donabie Wannabe AM radio with Hiker Mike ear plug, my digital phone for live reports from the trail, and my Speedo swimsuit for the halfway Strip 'n Dip. But we'd also find a darned good book. I inherited the love of books from my Ma, Marian the Librarian and right now, the Hiker Mike Book of Choice is 'A Walk in the Woods' by Bill Bryson. A 300 pound writer moves to a small town in New Hampshire and discovers a path going into the woods at the edge of town, and ends up hiking the 2100 mile Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. Hikers, this is an astonishingly funny book. I laughed till I cried. 'A Walk in the Woods' is worth the extra weight in your back pack. It's not as heavy as a brick and infinitely more entertaining.


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