“SIERRA” and the Pacific Crest Trail

sierra-launch  sierra-launch0   sierra-launch-1

Last October, I launched my newest AWOL thriller, SIERRA, which takes place along the Pacific Crest Trail. Right now many hikers are preparing for a long-distance hike, and I’m taking this opportunity to reach out to the backpacking and outdoor community.

My hike of the PCT was completed in 2008, and I will never forget the awe-inspiring beauty of this magnificent hiking trail. As many of you know, the PCT is contiguous with some of the John Muir Trail and goes from one end of Yosemite to the other. In other posts, I’ve shown some of my pictures.

While Sierra is a thriller and has the typical violence of drug cartels, it is fiction; I saw none of that out there. My novel should in no way impede you from planning this awesome hike. Having said that, it is always wise to stay alert in the wilds. We all know about the things that can happen near the Mexican border. What you may not realize is the lack of security at the Canadian border. I hope fellow hikers and general readers will check out Sierra. It’s sold at Barnes & Noble and is available at independent bookstores.

If you click on the link here, you have many options. Thank you!      http://www.turnerpublishing.com/books/detail/sierra

Available October 2016

Available now.

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“THE TRAIL” novel

TheTrail_designsB1 for Patriot Ledger

Permit me a post on my hiking novel, The Trail, a thriller which takes place along the Appalachian Trail. As some of you know, I conceived this novel while thru-hiking the A.T. using the trail name Hamlet. I used my journals and in this novel take the reader from GA to ME.

My book is not just another walk in the woods! And I didn’t encounter anything like the evil I wrote about therein. I had a wonderful experience and returned with a positive outlook on humanity in general and on our young people in particular. However, it is always wise to stay alert in the wilds, and I urge women to not hike alone.

This is the time of year hikers prepare for a long-distance hike so, I’m reaching out to the hiking/adventure community. The Trail is available at any bookstore and on Amazon-as a traditional book or as an ebook. Check it out on my website below.  I’d love to hear your comments about my story. Thank you, and happy trails!

12004009_10207978140554153_6055922694178555459_n(1)        http://www.RayKAnderson.com

Trail Maintainence Crews: Lots of work; very little credit.

Who paints all the trail blazes? Who clears all the blow-downs and debris? Ever seen the occasional ladder and handhold of rebar? Where does that come from? Trail maintenance crews, that’s where.

Behind all that beautiful scenery is the hard, grunt work of men and women who maintain your trail. My hiking buddy in New Jersey is a volunteer trail maintainer for a section of the Appalachian Trail. He scouts his section regularly, clears debris, refreshes blazes with white paint, notes any larger problems, and files a report to his manager.

Some improvements are major and require the paid (minimum wage) services of restoration crews. Check out this article on the remaking of “Tuck’s Trail” in New Hampshire. As you can see, this is a huge job, which also includes the delicate relocation of fragile plants.

Trail maintenance in Yosemite, on Pacific Crest Trail

Pacific Crest Trail–Yosemite

I took the photo above on the Pacific Crest Trail, in Yosemite. The man riding the lead horse was on his way to saw up a large pine that had fallen across the trail .

The worst hiking day I ever had, was thru-hiking during a windy, late-season snowstorm on the Appalachian Trail. Blow-downs covered the trail everywhere, and hikers had to crawl in the snow, under, over, and around busted limbs and branches. Only two days later, while recuperating in town, I met several hikers just coming in. When I asked them about the blow-downs, they said most of them were already cleared; branches and limbs had been cut and pushed to the sides of the trail.

Hats off to all trail maintainers!

Backpacker Etiquette

hiking and backpacking etiquette

From ALDHA

We don’t hear much about backpacker etiquette. We should.

Without public support there wouldn’t be many official trails. Agreements have to be reached with private landowners if trails run on their property. Arrangements must be made with local, state, and federal governments if trails cross those lands. Think of what happens if we are careless and sloppy; property owners and the public will become disgusted with our behavior.

The Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association (ALDHA) has a good slogan: Hike in Harmony. They’ve also printed a poster to get the message out, and the header says it all: Just because you live in the woods doesn’t mean you can act like an ANIMAL.

This means we hikers store trash in our packs and pack it out. It means we don’t leave litter in shelters but make the effort to tidy them up for the next person. In every shelter I saw on the Appalachian Trail, there was a broom somewhere. Use it. Leave no trace. And if we find occasional litter on the trail, let’s do what’s right; pick up the trash and pack it out.

Hostels. The golden rule applies: Treat others the way you’d want them to treat you. Unfortunately, it’s that small percentage of hikers who ruin it for others by their behavior. I know of one case where all the donations to the hostel manager were swiped by a hiker. Terrible, and the hostel has shut down.

A few other points on backpacker etiquette. Just because one is a thru-hiker, that doesn’t mean he or she is entitled to the last spot in a shelter in place of a weekend backpacker. Or anyone else. Shelters are for all hikers.

If you are a loud snorer, sure to keep others in the shelter awake, then tent. And when others call it a night, it’s time for you to journal or read. You get the idea. Treat others the way you’d want them to treat you.

Happy trails!

hiking the continental divide trail

Colorado–view from the Continental Divide Trail

New Hampshire’s Cohos Trail–3

This post will complete my recollections and comments about New Hampshire’s Cohos Trail.

Some of you have asked about a passport. A passport is not needed unless you plan to go into Canada. The trail starts, or finishes, behind a maintenance building just before the customs building, which is at the border.

There are only three shelters on the trail. Old Hermit Shelter, off the Sugarloaf Arm Trail in Nash Stream Forest; Baldhead Shelter, also in Nash Stream Forest off the Gadwah Notch Trail; and Panorama Shelter, on the Mount Sanguinary  Summit Ridge Trail near Dixville Notch.

Another great place to camp is at the old fire warden’s cabin on the top of Mt. Cabot. This little cabin is beat up and weathered, but someone took the time to nail bed pads (just like you put under your sleeping bag) on the bunk frames. The cabin is just off the summit but you can hook the door to keep out strong winds and rains.

IMG_0181

On the Cohos Trail

Another camping option is the hiker’s shelter at Coleman State Park. The Cohos Trail runs through the park and the shelter, pictured below, costs $26.00 a night. The park provides showers, a laundry room, drinks and snacks, and other needs. Final camping options include numerous tent sites along the trail and other campgrounds both public and private.

The Cohos Trail Association maintains a website offering all kinds of information on this relatively new hiking trail.  www.cohostrail.org  My thanks to this organization for the fine work they have done.

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New Hampshire’s Cohos Trail–2

English: * Snowmobile coming down the Mississi...

English: * Snowmobile coming down the Mississippi River to Hastings. Location no. GV3.78 r2 Negative no. 52567 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

IMG_0187

This is a follow-up to my last post.

I started south on the Cohos Trail from the Canadian border, near US Customs, which is north of Pittsburgh Village, NH. There is a sign leading you to the trail, but it is confusing because the trail is little used and covered with waist-high weeds at the starting point. A customs official explained the route follows a snowmobile trail and that it would thin out after a while. It did, but the trail was wet and mucky from earlier rains. I followed CT signs and an obvious snowmobile trail for miles. Much of the Cohos trail, especially in the northern sections, follows snowmobile trails.

I had read somewhere that one of the trail founders saw a moose a day when he blazed the Cohos Trail. I didn’t see any, but there were moose tracks everywhere, some of them huge. I tried to take pictures of tracks imprinted in the mud, but my I-phone camera locked up on me. Because I was alone most of the time (not recommended, my bad) I hoped not to encounter moose right on the trail. I saw many deer tracks and one set of bear tracks.

There is plenty of water on the Cohos. The guide says some sources aren’t reliable in hot weather, but I found water available for treatment everywhere. Although this trail is isolated, it nears several NH towns, and it is easy to hitch out or in at four-by-four paths and access roads. I was able to hitch from Fabyan to the AMC hostel on Rt 302 without a problem.

I regret that I couldn’t do the entire thru-hike with a friend. I believe I hiked through areas that haven’t seen people since Indian times. I was extra careful.

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Near US Customs–Canadian border

“SIERRA” and the Pacific Crest Trail

sierra-launch  sierra-launch0   sierra-launch-1

On Wednesday, October 26, I launched my newest AWOL thriller, SIERRA. The pictures above are from the event, which took place at the Hingham Public Library, with Buttonwood Books. Thank you if you were one of the 65 people attending. It was a great evening as I quizzed the group, gave out PCT prizes, showed slides from my actual Pacific Crest Trail hike, took questions, and read a brief excerpt from my novel.

My hike of the PCT was completed in 2008, and I will never forget the awe-inspiring beauty of this magnificent hiking trail. As many of you know, the PCT is contiguous with some of the John Muir Trail and goes from one end of Yosemite to the other. In other posts, I’ve shown some of my pictures.

While Sierra is a thriller and has the typical violence of drug cartels, it is fiction; I saw none of it out there. My novel should in no way impede you from planning this mighty hike. Having said that, it is always wise to stay alert in the wilds. We all know about the things that can happen near the Mexican border. What you may not realize is the lack of security at the Canadian border. I hope fellow hikers and general readers will check out Sierra. It’s available from any bookstore and is also available from Amazon, in book or Kindle format.

If you click on the link here, you have many options. Thank you!      http://www.turnerpublishing.com/books/detail/sierra

Available October 2016

Available now.

My Second Hiking Thriller–Mayhem along the Pacific Crest Trail

Available October 2016

Awol thriller-Available Oct 2016

This blog is about hiking, so it makes sense to me to introduce you to my newest Awol hiking thriller, Sierra. But first, I should back up a bit and tell you how these novels all started.

How does a retired Coca-Cola salesman living a quiet life near Boston, Massachusetts become an author of thrillers?  It all started in 2003 when I hiked the Appalachian Trail after taking an early retirement at age 60.  As I walked alone one day, I began to wonder “what if…?” and conjured up a serial killer loose on the trail, stalking other hikers. He collides with a Gulf War vet with PTSD who calls himself  “AWOL.”  That scenario became The Trail, my first novel published last year by Turner Publishing.  It’s doing well and has made Boston’s South Shore top-ten fiction listings several times.

This month, Sierra, the second novel in the series, releases. Sierra pits “Awol” against a drug cartel on the Pacific Crest Trail – which I’ve also hiked. I’m now working on the third novel in the series, set on the Continental Divide Trail. And I’m still hiking.

I hope my blog followers will check out Sierra. It’s available (as is The Trail) from bookstores as well as Amazon and other outlets. I’d love to hear from you about the novel. Thank you, and happy trails!

UntitledMA31117610-0015TheTrailcover4-30-15

My Second Hiking Thriller–Mayhem along the Pacific Crest Trail

Available October 2016

Awol thriller-Available Oct 2016

This blog is about hiking, so it makes sense to me to introduce you to my newest Awol hiking thriller, Sierra. But first, I should back up a bit and tell you how these novels all started.

How does a retired Coca-Cola salesman living a quiet life near Boston, Massachusetts become an author of thrillers?  It all started in 2003 when I hiked the Appalachian Trail after taking an early retirement at age 60.  As I walked alone one day, I began to wonder “what if…?” and conjured up a serial killer loose on the trail, stalking other hikers. He collides with a Gulf War vet with PTSD who calls himself  “AWOL.”  That scenario became The Trail, my first novel published last year by Turner Publishing.  It’s doing well and has made Boston’s South Shore top-ten fiction listings several times.

This month, Sierra, the second novel in the series, releases. Sierra pits “Awol” against a drug cartel on the Pacific Crest Trail – which I’ve also hiked. I’m now working on the third novel in the series, set on the Continental Divide Trail. And I’m still hiking.

I hope my blog followers will check out Sierra. It’s available (as is The Trail) from bookstores as well as Amazon and other outlets. I’d love to hear from you about the novel. Thank you, and happy trails!

UntitledMA31117610-0015TheTrailcover4-30-15

Hiker-Hobble: Handling Knee Problems

Hiking the Franconia Ridge, White Mountains, New Hampshire

Falling Waters Trail–New Hampshire

On any extended hike, you risk knee problems. And, as mentioned in an earlier post, if you hike without trekking poles, you are asking for a knee problem. What do you do when a knee, shin, or leg begins to fall apart? This happened to me six weeks into my Appalachian Trail thru-hike.

What frustrated me was that I’d used my poles religiously. Further, I had read that an A.T. thru-hiker is at his or her physical peak at the six-week point. After that, it’s a struggle, the book said, to take in enough nutritious food to replace the calories you burn every day. So I wasn’t happy that now I had to baby a shin that felt like a spike was being driven through it.

I did two things wrong: One, I ignored the first signs of discomfort. I was at my physical peak and felt the growing shin pain in my right leg would pass. I kept hiking sun-up to sun-down.

Two, I still kept hiking when I began favoring the other leg. Hikers call this hiker-hobble. I figured I could tough it out. Bad idea, and I had to get off the trail.

I did three things right: One, I went to the nearest clinic for an evaluation. X-rays determined that there wasn’t a stress fracture. Nevertheless, I was told to stop hiking immediately; it would only get worse, the nurse said.

Two, I did exactly what she told me to do. Stay off the leg; bathe it in warm to hot water, then ice it, three times a day; use an ointment like Ben-Gay. I got the cheapest room I could find that had a bathtub.

Three, I started out slowly when I went back to the A.T. one week later.

Although I’d lost my hiking buddies, and knew I’d never catch them, I realized I was lucky. I found out later that some hikers who had developed knee injuries never made it back that season. On my first day back, I hiked only three miles. I’d felt twinges and immediately set up camp. The next day I went five miles before twinges in my shin acted up again. In a few more days I was up to twelve miles and the twinges had left me completely.

The big lesson I learned: If you want to avoid hiker-hobble and worse, reduce your mileage and rest your legs at the first signs of discomfort.