Andrew Skurka Profile

Skurka Talks Outdoor Essentials and Guided Hiking

I was pleased to see a brief profile of long-distance hiker Andrew Skurka by Chelsea Hohn over at ActionHub.

Andrew Skurka
Image: Andrew Skurka

Skurka’s excellent book, The Ultimate Hikers Gear Guide, was the inspiration for the gear choices that kept my pack weight at (or under) 30 pounds during my thru-hike of the John Muir Trail.

The book was also indispensable in helping me dial in what to eat for two weeks on the trail and how much food I needed to carry, which is the hardest part of the whole long-distance hiking equation.

Check out Skuka’s book, and many other adventure titles, on the Fordsbasement Adventure Library.


Digging a cathole.

How to Poop in the Woods: A Four-Step Process

At some point on your hike, you’re going to have to poop.

Every hiker has at least one poop story (I’ve got a few of my own), so knowing how to dispose of human waste properly (the third principle of the seven Leave No Trace principles) is a crucial piece of knowledge for all hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.

The Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) recently posted a four-step guide on how to poop in the woods. It goes a little like this.

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No, you do not need PaleoBareHands

Stuff You Don’t Need: PaleoBareHANDS

Yes, I turned a blind eye a year or so ago when I saw the PaeloBarefoot chainmaille running sandals. They’re supposedly great for hiking and running, even in mud and water (um, really?), but overall it’s a bit too obvious to most rational humans that no one needs these things.

Not great for hiking and running in mud and water.

But now the same company has created these things they call  PaleoBarehands for the premium price of €183 (not including shipping), so here we are.

Great for holding sticks.

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Panning for Gold, 1977

Colorado 1977

As we’re in the midst of our own family adventure traveling around the world , I can’t help but think of an family adventure I went on nearly four decades ago …

Family Trip to Colorado

In 1977 my dad piled a mess of gear into the family Buick Apollo and drove from Wisconsin to Colorado. We went through Minnesota, South Dakota, and a little corner of Nebraska, camping along the way. Continue reading


Your Smartphone as a Backcountry Survival Tool

Leaning on Apps for a Little Support

If your life depends on it then why not seek a little advice?

Even the most experienced outdoor adventurers can use digital tools to help bridge the gap between potential catastrophe and survival. When I hiked the John Muir Trail, I carried my iPhone, using it mostly in conjunction with my Spot Connect GPS to record my position so my family would know I was safe — or if I wasn’t.

Obviously, there’s not always (seldom, in fact) reliable access to the Internet when you’re in the middle of nowhere, but that hasn’t stopped app developers from finding ways around such problems.

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S.H.O.V.E.L — The Open-Source, All-Purpose Spork

Semi-Horned Oblong Versatile Eating Ladle

From the good folks at SparkFun, best known as an (excellent) online electronics shop, comes the S.H.O.V.E.L, a cool, slightly offbeat eating utensil.

The S.H.O.V.E.L is a sturdy, titanium fork/spoon combo, complete with a serrated cutting edge (that works really well) and bottle opener along with a good amount (six feet) of red paracord wrapped around the handle.

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John Muir Trail

Another Great John Muir Trail Report

On August 9, 2014 hiker Allison Nadler completed a thru-hike of the John Muir Trail.

It took her 15 days, and the trail conditions she encountered were pretty different from what I experienced when I hiked the JMT in 2012.

She’ll be posting her trail journal at Trail to Summit over the next few weeks. She just posted day one yesterday, and it’s a great read. I’m looking forward to the rest!

And while you’re there, check out the rest of her site. It’s full of great tips, recipes, and techniques for backcountry adventuring.