Posts tagged #hiking

Alfred Wainwright

There is no other character in British hiking quite as celebrated as Alfred Wainwright; although he is little known outside of the UK, for many he is the godfather of recreational walking. His pictorial guides to the hills and fells have made much of the UK, and in particular the Lake District, accessible for all to enjoy.

It all began on 7th June 1930. Wainwright had saved enough money for a weeks holiday in the Lake District in North-West England. He took the bus from his Blackburn home and after arriving in Windermere he made for Orrest Head; it is a short walk but ends with breathtaking views over the town of Windermere, the lake of the same name and the surrounding fells.

I was totally transfixed, unable to believe my eyes. I had never seen anything like this. I saw mountain ranges, one after another, the nearer starkly etched, those beyond fading into the blue distance. Rich woodlands, emerald pastures and the shimmering water of the lake below added to a pageant of loveliness, a glorious panorama that held me enthralled.
— Alfred Wainwright
My trip to Orrest Head

My trip to Orrest Head

From then on he was hooked, he spent the following years making multiple trips to explore the Lake District – he even found ways to make the journey during the early years of World War II, when travel was heavily restricted. So keen was his love of the area, that in 1941 he took a pay cut and moved north to Kendal to work for the Kendal Treasurer's Department. The hills were now on his doorstep and he ventured out at every opportunity, building a personal relationship and deep knowledge of their many peaks.

Being a meticulous scribe, illustrator and artist, as well as a passionate walker, Wainwright began to document each of his trips. In 1951 he began work on a set of Lakeland Guides, he intended to climb and document every one of the 214 Lake District's Fells. He completed this in 13 years and compiled them into seven books, once published they became instant classics, inspiring millions to load up a pack and head to the hills. Wainwright went on to expand his range, creating guides for the Pennine Way, the Coast To Coast walk and eventually the Lake District's Outer Fells, these have also become indispensable walking guides.

Each Wainwright guide is exquisite. Every publication is a compilation of his illustration and writing; of factual practical knowledge as well as his whimsical musings. If you chance upon any be sure to pick them up, even if you have no intention of visiting the Lake District – they are real works of art and an amazing case study in information design. His guides are now part of UK folklore, so much so that the 214 peaks in the Lake District are now known as 'Wainwrights'. The guides are still widely available and have been recently updated by Chris Jesty (a friend of Wainwrights) for Frances Lincoln who now has the publishing rights for the guides.

Sadly Alfred Wainwright passed away in 1991. He may have been quiet and reclusive in life, but his legacy does, and will, continue to speak loudly of his love for the hills and fells for years to come, through the practical content of his guides and in the memories created by the generations of walkers they inspired. 

Posted on March 12, 2015 and filed under Hero.

British Pathé Archive

Hiking Hints by John E. Walsh in 1933

Newsreel archive British Pathé have uploaded and made public their entire collection of 85,000 historic films. The archive features footage from around the world dating between 1896 and 1976. Obviously the first thing I searched for was hiking; oh what a wonderful collections of gems surfaced. Above we see "Hiking Hints" from 1933 by John E. Walsh he details the best gear for the 1930's British hiker.

Gear advice from John Carbeth Wells in 1932

Some sage advice from  John Carbeth Wells the "Super Hiker" who in 1932 at the age of 21 had hiked across Britain, China, Africa, Japan, Malaya and U.S.A. You can browse or search the whole Pathé Archive here.

Posted on May 2, 2014 and filed under Classic Kit, History.

The Hiker's Bible 1973 Gear List

The Hiker's Bible by Robert Elman 1974

The Hiker's Bible by Robert Elman 1974

This great book by Robert Elman contains a few different lists for different occasions. Lots for 'him and her' and 'how to divide up equipment.' The most concise and relevant for here is one Elman has sourced from a Sears Hillary catalogue for "longer backpacking trips."

Pack and frame 4 lbs. Down sleeping bag 4 lbs. Nylon tent 7 lbs. 8oz . Canteen 1 lb. Stuff bag 6 oz. Short foam pad 1 lb. 4 oz. 1 compass 4 oz. Knife 8 oz. Flashlight 8 oz. Nylon cord (40’) 6 oz. Maps 6 oz. First-aid kit 6 oz. Cooking grill 1 lb. 8 oz. Mess kit 1 lb. 3 oz. Fork-and-spoon kit 6 oz. Can opener 1 oz. Dishcloth 2 oz. Plastic bags 2 oz. Nylon poncho 1 lb. Extra set of underwear 12 oz. 2 extra pairs of lightweight socks 4 oz. 2 extra pairs of heavy socks 8 oz. Toilet kit (including towel, soap shaving equipment, insect repellent, mirror, toilet tissue, etc) 1 lb. 12 oz.

Total weight 28 lb. 2 oz.

If you were to add a one-pound trail ax, a stove weighing about 1¼ pounds, a nylon tent fly, a set of thermal underwear, a jacket and even a pair of walking shorts, the burden would still only come to 35 pounds, and eight pounds of food would bring it to 43. That’s going reasonably light without roughing it.
— Robert Elman - The Hiker's Bible, 1974

Nice list, although I'm not sure 43 pounds would still be classed as "reasonably light."

Posted on September 30, 2012 and filed under Gear List.

Harvey Manning's 1972 Gear List

Harvey Manning - Backpacking One Step at a Time, 1972

Harvey Manning - Backpacking One Step at a Time, 1972

It doesn't get better than this. From "Backpacking One Step at a Time" one of the all-time great hiking book, written by one one of the all-time great hikers.

The following list is limited to basics and does not include the myriad nice little items like binoculars, candles, pliers, reading material, playing cards, booze, and the hundred other things individuals may come to consider indispensable for safety or pleasure.

Day Trip

Boots Socks Underwear Shirts and sweaters Parka Trousers or knickers (Shorts) Headwear Rucksack (Child Carrier) (Canteen) Food (Sunglasses) Knife Matches, firestarter First aid kit Flashlight Map and compass (Sunburn lotion) (Insect repellent)

Add for Overnight

Packframe and bag Sleeping bag Sleeping pad Ground sheet (Air mattress) Tarp or tent and accessories (Grate) Stove and accessories Cooking pots and accessories Eating utensils Food container Repair kit Toilet articles

Add for Special Situation

(Gaitors) (Poncho) (Down vest or sweater) (Rain pants) (Mittens) (Ice ax) (Hiking rope) (Snowshoes) (Cross-country skis)
— Harvey Manning - Backpacking One Step at a Time, 1972
Posted on July 16, 2012 and filed under Gear List.

Walking On Hallowed Ground

First AT Blaze

First AT Blaze

This weekend Mrs VHD and I headed to the Maine woods for a few days in the wilderness. Our weekend residence was a cabin nestled in the mountains near Andover, surrounded by trees, mountains, miles of hiking trails and little else. This was it, my first chance to get on the Appalachian Trail. For more than ten years I've read stacks of books about it; everything from AWOL On The Appalachian Trail, Walking The Appalachian Trail and Walking With Spring to Long Distance Hiking–Lessons From The Appalachian Trail and A Walk In The Woods to name a few. I was ready.



We approached the trail from Sawyer's Notch and there it was, my first white blaze. From where I was standing if I went north I would head deeper into Maine and eventually reach Mount Katahdin (which is no mean feat), if I headed south I could walk all the way to Springer Mountain in Georgia. Amazing.

We chose to head south up to Hall Mountain lean-to. I had butterflies as we headed up the steep rise following a tumbling stream. It looked as if we were the first people to get up there for some time–the previous register entry was from November 2011 and there was no sign of any other human footprints. There was still a decent amount of snow on the mountain, all of it undisturbed. We had lunch at the lean-to and poked around a bit, reading the funny entries in the register and relaxing before we headed back down.

It sounds strange but it was a weird feeling being on the trail for the first time, walking where the likes of Myron Avery, Earl Shaffer and Grandma Gatewood (amongst thousands of others) have previously trodden. I dearly look forward to seeing more of the trail.

To those who would see the Maine wilderness, tramp day by day through a succession of ever delightful forest, past lake and stream, and over mountains, we would say: Follow the Appalachian Trail across Maine. It cannot be followed on horse or awheel. Remote for detachment, narrow for chosen company, winding for leisure, lonely for contemplation, it beckons not merely north and south but upward to the body, mind and soul of man.
— Myron Avery, In the Maine Woods, 1934
Posted on April 17, 2012 and filed under Quote, VHD.

PATC 1960 Gear List

 PATC - Hiking, Camping and Mountaineering Equipment, 1960

 PATC - Hiking, Camping and Mountaineering Equipment, 1960

I came across this great guide in a dusty Portland bookstore. It is a truly exhaustive list of all the gear available to the hiker, climber and mountaineer in the early 60's. This is a real gem, it has details about the brands, the weight of the items as well as the details of which companies make them. Excuse the long post, but I love an gear list.

Their suggested gear list for hiking the Appalachian Trail is as follows:

On Person Handkerchief (Bean’s 24” bandana); Polythylene plastic bag 9” x 18” (Gerry#P62) for toilet paper Valuables, permits, keys, small note book and pencil stub, pocket knife with 2 blades, can opener Small compass induction damped (Gerry #K42 or Silva “Explorer” Stern Waterproof match box with small size strike-anywhere matches sprayed with laquer like Krylon Alarm Watch (Corcoran) Maps and proper guide book sheets in map case (PATC) — Carry in front of shirt Camera Equipment

Pack and Contents A. For use while hiking Kelty “Mountaineer” Model Packboard of proper size used with waist strap and equiped with studs or loops at of vertical risers for easy lashing. Lashed to topbar — Ruck - or rucksask (Camp and Trail #300) with “Dee” ring hooked on stud secured to top of cross bar, shoulder straps of rucksack wrapped around cross-bar, then brought down and snapped into “dee” rings at base of rucksack. Kelty Packbag Model “B” if no side trips are planned (for side trips the first option permits leaving the pack frame in base camp and carrying out essentials in the rucksack). With the rucksack arrangement, items not required during the day are placed in a rubberized clothing bag which is lashed below the rucksack, heavy items at the top. Cup – miner’s cup with wire loop handle (Sierra Club or PATC — same manufacturer). Canteen – 1qt. aluminum fuel bottle (Camp & Trail #367) or 1 qt aluminum Army surplus in pocket of pack. Shoes – Pete Limmer Mountaineer Boot; for wet spring and fall, use Beans’s Maine Hunting shoe with Bean’s arched inner sole or felt insole, as preferred. Sock – Inner - light wool surplus. Outer - cushion sole 50-50 wool and cotton since no nylon cushion sole available. Also Wigwam #620 or Epsy all nylon. Trousers – Masland Mountain brier cloth in cold weather(surplus trouser, hell Field M-1951 is best but not too available). Sears 11 oz denim, not Levi — legs are too narrow — in warmer weather. Shirt – According to weather. Pandleton wool 10oz Woolrich 14oz. Two button-down flap pockets essential. Jacket – Full zip parka (Holubar) Underwear – In summer, Brynje top, regular shorts (not jockey shorts, which permit chaffing) In winter, wool and cotton, long drawers. In very cold weather, over Brynjes warm surplus pajama-style 50-50 wool and cotton, long drawers and long sleeved undershirt with 3-button front for ventilation. Hat or cap as desired; billed cap or felt hat. Rain garments – Superlight rubber coated nylon parka (Bean) with Horcolite rain chaps (Holubar). First Aid Kit. Insect repellent – OFF Anti sun-cream _ Glacier Red Label for lips and face; after tanning Sea and Ski.

B. For use in camp Sleeping bag. Summer: Ski Hut Meadow-S; Fall and Winter: Holubar’s Royalite; Ski Hut Meadow-C; Army Surplus. Use Summer and winter bags, nested, during coldest weather. Cook Set and Stove – Atenhofer with Primus 71 (Holubar), sizes to suit 1, 2, 3 men. Gasoline in aluminum gas bottles, 1 pt. or 1 qt. (Gerry to Camp & Trail). Axe – Not needed if cook on gasoline stove. Fire inspirator - 24” x ¼” inside diameter 1/16” wall pure gum tubing (any chemical supply house). Invaluable with cranky wood fires. Doubles as tourniquet. Salt and Pepper – plastic (Boy Scout cat. No. 1411). For larger amounts use polyethylene bottles. Spoon and Fork – nesting aluminum (Gerry #A45). Flashlight – 2-cell medium size. Extra bulk. Cellulose Impregnated Sea Salt Tablets (Morton’s) Sewing Kit - 2 needles, little thread, in first aid equipment. Reserve matches and reserve toilet paper in waterproof containers. Toilet articles – Toothbrush and small paste; powder in cold weather; hotel-sized soap in bobby pin plastic box; razor blades, brushless shave cream (if shave). Tent – Holubar Royalite, Gerry Yearound. Air Mattress – Nylon Rubber, full length (Camp & Trail #268); Stebco Backpacker 46” (Ski Hut).

C. Food - Use polyethylene bags except for canned meats which should be limited. Bag food on polyethylene and place in a cambric sack for protection from chaffing. Jam in wide-mouth polyethylene jar, screw top (Ski Hut). Oleo (higher melting point than butter) in aluminum screw-top jar with plastic liner. (Benjamin Edington).
— PATC - Hiking, Camping and Mountaineering Equipment, 1960
Posted on January 24, 2012 and filed under Gear List.

Pacific Crest Trail

William R. Gray - The Pacific Crest Trail, 1975

William R. Gray - The Pacific Crest Trail, 1975

I just finished reading "The Pacific Crest Trail" by William R. Gray, published by the National Geographic Society. This is a terrific book, well worth hunting down. Gray is a gifted writer, mixing natural history, trail history and a diary style narrative as he and photographer Sam Abell walk the trail. There is a strong focus on the people they meet and their stories. Their intention was never to thru-hike, this meant they were able to stop along the way to explore, expanding the narrative. Abell's photographs are exceptional, they are very artistic and complement Gray's writing perfectly.

Gray continued as a writer, editor, and publishing executive at National Geographic until 2001 and now teaches as San Juan college. His other books include "Camping Adventure (Books For Young Explorers)" and "Voyages to Paradise," both are now on my wish list. Abell continues to shoot with National Geographic and has been published in over 20 articles. He has also released several photography books and exhibited his work numerous times. See more of Abels work here.

Bushwalking from the 1960s & 70s

I came across a great collection of bushwalking and climbing pictures from the 60s and 70s, these shots are part of Ted Cais' collection. Ted and his peers we're pioneers of Queensland climbing, opening countless new routes and exploring the Australian bush. These shots have captured a really special and historic time.

A big thank you to Ted for giving me permission to share these great pictures. you can see the entire early collection here and all Ted's galleries are here.

Posted on November 22, 2011 and filed under Photography.