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I’m planning on hiking the back country in 2015 and for me that means a tonne of research.
Any time I take on anything new I love to learn … and learn … and learn about it first. If I’ve done it right I like to know all there is to know about something in theory before I even start. I’m a bit neurotic that way.
I’ve joined Facebook groups, I’ve read blog after blog, I’ve bought e-books and I’ve created a source document with link upon link of useful information for be to go back to when I have a spare moment or two.
And while I’ve learned some cool stuff that I’ll write other blog posts about like hammock tents and stoves made from cat food tins, the thing I’m coming to realize quite clearly is that we are spoiled friggen’ rotten.
Most of the population of the groups on Facebook is made up of Americans and a great number of them are familiar with hiking either the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) or the Appalachian Trail (AT). Their knowledge of hiking and hiking gear is unmatched and I am indebted to their years of experience.
During threads and conversations, however, it has become apparent that their world is very, very different than ours.
Comments like “you’re never very far from the trail” during conversations about whether or not to bushwhack while hiking … or mentions of the amount of TP or garbage left behind by hikers started to make me think about where we live.
There are hikes that I want to do in Jasper National Park, for sure, but even those were starting to lose my interest as I got further into planning … they struck me as too populated, too busy.
Sure I’ll still do some of them, because I can, but it had me looking elsewhere.
So I looked up some statistics on the AT and didn’t get much further than this:
That’s more than the population of Toronto, our entire country’s largest city!
There was an estimated 2 million visitors to all of Jasper National Park last year … that’s the whole park and only a small, small percentage of those people venture off into the back country to enjoy the more than 1000 kms of hiking trails.
Granted, the AT is a little more than 2000 miles and all those people are not completing the whole thing, by any stretch … in fact in 2013 only 875 people gained “2000 miler” status (I said only, but I think that’s a damn impressive number).
While I can see the attraction of hiking sections of trail you have read about and to see the log books, to be a part of documented history – I can’t help but think I’d be fed up with all the people.
My entire reason for wanting to hit the back country is to be able to leave everything behind.
That’s why I’m looking at the Willmore Wilderness Park area for hiking now.
Nearly 5000 sq km of untamed wilderness.
The trails are formed by old fur trade routes and are still used by horse outfitters.
Hunting is allowed, the dogs can come with us and camp fires can be had … all because of how remote it is.
Places like that are the reason we can live somewhere that only has an average of 72 frost-free days a year, where you plan for winter by the end of August and look forward to spring in May and still call ourselves lucky.