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Deuter Futura 28 AC Daypack

Deuter Futura 28 AC Daypack

With the 2011 Hike the Highlands festival starting in less than a week, it is important to have your checklist ready for hiking so you pack your daypack  and enjoy the day hiking,

1) Weather reports – always check the weather reports before you start out hiking for the day. You can then pack & dress according – ie rain gear, suncreen, etc.

2)  Equipment for daypack  – sunscreen, sunglasses,  digital camera with extra batteries and card, whistle, hat,  jacket, water (2 bottles), snacks, lunch, extra pair of hiking socks, ziplock bags for garbage, insect repellent, small first aid kit, maps of trail(s). For day hikes, 4-6 hours long, you should have a daypack that is 20 plus litres.

3) Other equipment – hiking boots, hiking/trekking poles, gaiters,  watch, temperature gauge, baselayer, midlayer -fleece jacket.

Hiking Tip – A friend of mine takes a cold facecloth with her on those hot days to wipe her forehead and cool her down. She keeps the facecloth in a ziplock bag.

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A tough year ahead for hiking boots

The year 2011 can be declared the year of hiking challenges in the Cape Breton Highlands.  Here are just a few below :

1) The Cape Breton Highlands National Park celebrating its 75th Anniversary in 2011 has issued a 75 km hiking challenge from May to October.  You cannot hike on the same trail more than once.

2)  The 2nd annual Cape Breton Highlands 3 Peaks Challenge is back in 2011 on July 16th. Teams of 4 our are are required to hike 3 mountains in one day. The 3 peaks in 2011 are Franey, Roberts Mountain and Acadien.  Only 15 teams can register.

3) Hike Nova Scotia has a new hiker distance award program patterned off the Hike the Highlands festival but longer distances spread out over a year – 150, 250 and 500 km.

4) And finally the Hike the Highlands Festival Hiker Distance award program, now in its third year – 25, 50 and 100 km to be completed during the festival – Sept. 9-18, 2011.

We should be in great shape for the winter for snowshoeing, cross country skiing and other winter sports. Maybe Santa will bring us a new pair of hiking boots for Christmas and the 2012 hiking season.

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Jack Pine, Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Generally, the Victoria Day weekend is the start of the hiking season in the Cape Breton Highlands area for many hikers. You can expect wet conditions, some windfalls, cold temps, winds and much more. Here are some tips to get ready for the season:

1) develop a checklist for your hiking equipment, then review the condition of each item, make notes of what is needed to be replaced. Then make sure everything is packed before you go out hiking on the trail. The checklist should include the following – whistle, map,  rain gear, layers, trekking poles,  extra pair of smart wool socks,  gaiters, jacket, first aid kit, knife,  hat, sun glasses, bug spray, and a  camera with extra batteries etc.

2) Develop a training plan – a)  start your hiking season with short hikes, b) then move on to medium hikes and then c) longer hikes.  Build your strength up, get used to your equipment and then you are ready for some hiking challenges.

3)  Every hiking season brings many special moments and memories. Always bring your camera with you, bring extra batteries and memory card. You never know what you might run into or find yourself in the right place at right time. Below is a pick of a spruce grouse that I almost ran into on the Clyburn Valley hiking trail in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park on the long weekend in May.

Spruce Grouse, Clyburn Valley, CBHNP

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Getting an early start to hiking season is what most hikers want but it forces us to hike in wet spring like conditions and in snow sometimes. Here are some tips to start the season off early:

1)  Crossing streams – With melting snow and milder conditions, streams are higher this time of the year and  more of them.  Tips –  a) wear gaiters – gore-tex are the best, waterproof hiking boots (gore-tex) , wool socks – plus take an extra pair. b) Use poles to cross streams & walk softly on rocks.  I learned how important poles were in Scotland hiking the West Highland Way and crossing so many streams, c) Make sure your hip belt and chest straps are on to avoid your daypack to sway.  d) Double bag your camera gear with dry bags or ziplock bags.

A stream on Red Island Hiking Trail

2) Hiking in snow on trails – Tips – a) hike with gaiters on, waterproof hiking boots and wool socks. b) take your trekking poles and use them. Don’t forget your baskets….

3) Take an extra jacket –  Important to dress in layers this time of the year. It is colder and you do not want to get chills.  Make sure you have a base layer, mid-layer and jacket  a) wear your jacket when you stop for snacks, lunch and water breaks…. you do not want to get cold…take short breaks and keep moving.

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Christmas treeThe christmas trees are up in some homes and more are on its way. It is that time of the year again…I read the other day on Canadian Tire Flyer cover – just 3 weeks to go. Wow time is flying by….Here are some ideas for you to help you decide and pick out the right gift for your hiker friend(s).

Lets start with the small ones under $30.00 –  mesh bags,  a watch that clips on your daypack, a good whistle,  a compass,  a hat,  sunglasses pouch,  a memory card for the camera, re-chargeable batteries,  sunscreen, insect repellent,a  tree book, dry pouches or dry bags,  maps, a pair of smart wool socks, a small knife, waterproof matches, pack biners, pedometer,  a stainless steel waterbottle,  gloves,  DVD spindle,  Turtle Light (MEC), a first aid kit,  gaiters, a bird book,  a wool toque,  a one year subscription to Backpacker, Explore or Outside magazine, and a nature or landscape photography book.      

Some bigger and more expensive gifts ($40.00 & over) –  baselayer, mid-layer,  fleece jacket, rain jacket & pants, daypack,  headlamp, trekking poles,  gps, water filter,  photo organizer & editing program, a pair of hiking pants/shorts that you can zipper off the legs, hiking boots,  a $50.00 gift card and registration fee for a photography course.   

I hope this list provides you with some ideas to help you with your christmas shopping. Good Luck and Merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas

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Branch pond Look-off Trail

Hikers on Branch Pond Look-off Trail

Today’s weather forecast was 30-40 mm of rain, heavy at times with winds 20-70 kms… I never thought 40 hikers on Day 8 would show up at 9:00 am. to hike Branch Pond Look-off at Cape Breton Highlands National Park. They showed at Middle Head at 10:00 am and later in the afternoon at 2:00 pm. at Broad Cove Mountain….I was proud to walk with them and be a part of this amazing hiking community….and the Hike the Highlands festival team…

It was a day of learning about dressing in layers – baselayer, mid-layer,  rain gear, and using trekking poles to cross streams and big puddles.  A day of adventure and enduring those tough days….One gentleman said – I paid to do this today….

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With just two weeks before the Hike the Highlands festival, now is a great time to check your equipment out.  Here is a checklist of what you need for the festival : hiking boots,  hiking socks,  gaiters – protect your legs from branches, thorns etc along with keep your boots dry,  hiking pants/shorts,  daypack, water bottles,  hat,  trekking/hiking poles, insect repellent, sunscreen, sunglasses, digital camera along with camera case, extra batteries, charger and memory cards, rain gear,  mid-layer (fleece), base layer, bear bell, …. 

One of the most important pieces of equipment when hiking today is trekking or hiking poles. Below is a short video to explain the benefits of using poles.

Deuter Futura 28 AC Daypack

Deuter Futura 28 AC Daypack

Hike the Highlands has a number of 3-6 hours hikes and a few longer…So it would be wise to have a daypack in the range of 20-20 litres as you will need extra food , water  and layers for longer hikes…. The pack to the left is a Deuter Futura 28 litre, a  popular pack that MEC sells that has a number of compartments- see the bottom compartment- not many have this as well this daypack has a rain cover.

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