[cdt-l] Ultralight in the Nation's Icebox - A Success!

Marcia gottawalk at pacbell.net
Thu Jan 25 12:19:13 CST 2007

Brrr...Andrew can sure hike in snow! Now he'll have to find the water for 
his next hike. He's planning a CDT-PCT 2007 hike with connecting legs. Is he 
on your CDT 2007 hiker list, Sly?

Hello and Happy New Year to you.  It has been a few months since the last 
e-mail update but there are a few things that I wanted to write about now.

Ultralight in the Nation's Icebox - A Success!

Last week I completed a 380-mile 16-day hike through northern Minnesota, 
from Duluth to Ely.  This region of the country routinely cooks up the most 
frigid conditions in the Lower 48 - the average temperature in January in 
Duluth is about 8 degrees F and in Ely it is about 5 degrees F - and, 
combined with some excellent scenery and an extensive trail network along 
the North Shore and in the Boundary Waters, it makes for a great testing 
laboratory for lightweight winter backpacking and for a memorable 
backcountry experience.

The conditions were not exactly what I had envisioned (and, admittedly, 
somewhat dreaded) for the first half of the trip - the low temperatures were 
"only" in the low-10's and the trails were snow-free but ice-covered - but I 
definitely got my fill of the Nation's Icebox during the second half: 
nighttime temperatures dipped as low as -12 F, daytime highs sometimes never 
exceeded 5 degrees, and 18" of snow created route-finding issues in the 
northern lake-dotted and wolf-filled wilderness.

Visit AndrewSkurka.com for: photos with accompanying details and stories; my 
ultralight winter gear list (14 pounds!); video clips from the trip; and a 
Podcast and Pre-Trip Report (via Backpacking Light Magazine).

My next BIG hike: The Great Western Loop

The numbers tell half the story: 7,000 miles, 7 months, 12 national parks, 
75+ designated wilderness areas, 5 existing long-distance trails, 2 desert 
traverses, and zero attempts or completions to date.

The other half other half of the story is less quantifiable: the Great 
Western Loop connects many of the most prized wild lands in America's West, 
and as such it reflects the health of and dangers to these places, and it is 
a shared and tangible entity among them that beholds value in excess of the 
sum of its parts, like the chain of a pearl necklace.

In early-April I will begin the Great Western Loop, in a location and 
direction that will depend on this winter's snowpack (I'm leaning towards 
going counter-clockwise, starting near California San Gorgonio Pass).  This 
is going to be an awesome trip!  And, to a greater degree than ever, those 
who wish to will be able to share in the experience via a soon-to-be 
overhauled AndrewSkurka.com website, Podcasts, and more frequent postings of 
photos and updates.  With this enhanced trip interactivity, I'm hoping to 
help others develop a stronger connection with the outdoors, which I think 
is a key component in a much-needed, more eco-friendly lifestyle that 
emphasizes doing more with less and minimizing one's impact on our planet.

I will send another e-mail in mid-March with many more details.

New GoLite website

Within the next week GoLite, my main sponsor, will be launching a new 
website.  I have worked extensively on the content for this new site, and it 
will feature many excellent articles on lightweight backpacking in a new 
section called GoLite Academy.  I encourage you to check these articles out 
if you are planning some trips this year - and, while you are at, you might 
as well check out the great products that GoLite is coming out with, 
including a completely line pack line and an eco-friendly base layer fabric, 

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