KEY SKILLS

Backpacker - - Public Lands | See It -

OFF-TRAIL HIK­ING

Pretty much the only paths in Wrangell-St. Elias are game trails. Use these tips when your route in­ter­sects boul­ders, tun­dra, or scree.

1. BOOST YOUR BAL­ANCE.

A few months be­fore you head to the park, strengthen your an­kles, knees, and men­tal tough­ness by hik­ing the steep­est, least-main­tained trails you can find near you. Use poles for ex­tra sta­bil­ity.

2. DO YOUR RE­CON­NAIS­SANCE.

Ask park rangers about rel­e­vant glacier con­di­tions be­fore you head out. Dur­ing the flight in, ask your pi­lot to fly over your in­tended route, and keep an eye out for land­marks and di­ver­gences from your map. “A lot of our topo maps are from the 1950s,” Ebright says; things change fast in glacier coun­try.

3. PICK LAND­MARKS WISELY.

Re­treat­ing glaciers and chang­ing river courses make un­re­li­able handrails. In­stead, use un­mov­able ob­jects like ridge­lines. Get­ting cliffed out? Scan the horizon for a ramp you can reach by back­track­ing. Don’t hes­i­tate to turn around—it might be the only way.

4. MAS­TER THE ‘SCHWACK.

Stick to high ridges, gravel bars, and game trails to avoid bush­whack­ing when you can. No choice? Stream­line your pack to avoid catch­ing branches.

Keep about 4 feet be­tween you and your part­ner, and wear sun­glasses to pro­tect your eyes. In dense, thorny brush, spare your face and arms by hik­ing back­ward.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.