Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Camping in Tennessee Soars During Pandemic

Camping in the last two months reached historic highs in Tennessee State Parks.

The parks saw 62,124 nights camping in October, a one-month record for camping stays in the system, topping the mark of 57,472 nights set in June 2020. November saw over 36,000 camping nights sold, the highest number for November ever and exceeding November 2019 by 15,000 nights.

Four of the top 10 camping months ever in the state parks have occurred in 2020, driven by visitors seeking the outdoors during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The impact of COVID-19 simply underscores a growing awareness that the outdoors are a sanctuary for mental and physical health,” Jim Bryson, deputy commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, said. “The appeal of louder, busier, and crowded entertainment venues has given way to the space, freedom and connection the outdoors provide.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated outdoor recreation trends that have steadily grown over the last several years. Statistics from the Bureau of Economic Analysis released recently show the outdoor recreation economy accounted for 2.1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in the United States for 2019. In Tennessee, outdoor recreation value added as a share of GDP was 2.4 percent.

July 2020 saw 56,033 camping nights sold in Tennessee State Parks, which makes June, July and October of this year the top three months ever recorded. September saw 48,350 camping nights sold, making it the sixth best month ever, following July 2019 (49,217) and October 2016 (49,003). The November total for 2020 was the overall 32nd best month ever.

Tennessee State Parks operate over 3,000 campsites ranging from RV sites with full hookups to backcountry spots deep in the woods.


Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

New Protections for McAfee Knob, Appalachian Trail Access

One of the most famous vistas on the Appalachian Trail (A.T.), McAfee Knob, has been given additional protection with the acquisition of three tracts of land near Roanoke.

This effort, led by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), The Conservation Fund and the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club (RATC), will add almost 600 acres of permanently protected land to the area. These acquisitions will help preserve iconic views from McAfee Knob, improve access to the Trail and provide greater conservation of the surrounding area.

The protection of these properties builds on the acquisition and conservation of the Hogan Hollow tract in 2019, which is located below the nearby and similarly renowned Tinker Cliffs. The ongoing work to conserve lands in the viewshed of McAfee Knob represents the dedication and collaboration of multiple partners to protect and improve the A.T. experience at one of Virginia’s most beloved outdoor destinations.

Early in 2020, the ATC and RATC began a fundraising campaign for the acquisition and restoration of a property adjacent to the McAfee Knob trailhead on Route 311. RATC raised over $44,000 from hundreds of individual donations from Roanoke Valley residents and trail lovers across the county. While the COVID-19 pandemic ultimately halted these efforts, the voluntary stewardship agreement signed between the ATC, The Conservation Fund and Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC provided the remainder of funds needed to purchase the McAfee Knob trailhead property. This tract will now be included in an ongoing study to improve safety and the visitor experience at the Route 311 parking area.

Utilizing additional funds from the agreement and in partnership with the ATC, The Conservation Fund acquired a 197-acre property along Blacksburg Road, where the Trail was located on a narrow easement. An additional 353-acre parcel was also secured just below the famed McAfee Knob summit, adding to the conserved land in the shadow of this famed viewpoint along the Trail.

These conservation efforts will significantly improve access, help conserve the world’s most famous footpath and protect views that millions of visitors have come to love. Special thanks go to the private landowners who chose to work with the ATC, RATC and The Conservation Fund to preserve the unique character of the Catawba Valley and the A.T. landscape.

“Protecting the areas surrounding McAfee Knob is a clear example of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s focus on conserving the areas essential to the unique experience the Appalachian Trail provides,” said Sandra Marra, president and CEO of the ATC. “Land conservation is an essential element of our work, helping ensure the ecosystems and inspiring views the Trail is known for are available for all of us to enjoy and benefit from for centuries to come.”

For more information about the ATC’s land conservation work, please click here.


Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Last Minute Shoppers - There's Still Time!

Christmas is just over a week away! The good news is that you still have time to purchase stocking stuffers for all your favorite hikers. If you need a gift idea, both the paperback and E-book versions of my book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking, are available on Amazon. If you order now you'll still have plenty of time to have shipped to your home.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking is the first broad historical overview of hiking in one volume. Among the variety of topics discussed about the early years of hiking, the book chronicles hiking’s roots in alpinism and mountaineering, the societal trends that fostered its growth, some of the early hikers from the 19th century, the first trails built specifically for hiking, the formation of the first hiking clubs, as well as the evolution of hiking gear and apparel. It also includes anecdotal stories of trail development in some of our oldest and most iconic national parks, such as Yellowstone, Glacier, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking is a great stocking stuffer for anyone who loves hiking, and wishes to learn more about the rich and amazing history of one of the world’s top pastimes.

For more information, and to purchase on Amazon, please click here.

Once again, thank you very much!


Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Monday, December 14, 2020

Public Input Sought for Hickory Nut Gorge State Trail Master Plan

The N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation launched a new web page to seek public input as staff develop the Hickory Nut Gorge State Trail master plan. The master plan is a long-term strategy for the park that details how and where access will be provided and prioritizes projects and investments. Master plan development involves identifying recreation and conservation needs for the trail and collecting stakeholder input on priorities for the park.

The new web page includes a survey, informational maps and a narrated presentation that highlights the master planning process and initial concepts for the new state trail. The site can be accessed here. Members of the public are encouraged to visit the new site, view the presentation and informational documents and provide their input via the online survey.

Hickory Nut Gorge State Trail is one of nine state trails and crosses Henderson, Rutherford, and Buncombe counties. It will connect Bearwallow Mountain, Lake Lure, Chimney Rock State Park, and the Florence Nature Preserve. Conserving Carolina, a land trust serving western N.C. and northern S.C., has driven the development of the trail and is one the division’s major partners in the effort. When complete, the trail will be 50 to 60 miles long.


Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Free Entrance Days for National Parks in 2021

The Trump Administration announced this past week that all National Park Service sites will have six entrance fee-free days in 2021. The fee-free days are part of the Administration’s unprecedented commitment to increase access, promote recreational opportunities, improve visitor facilities and conserve natural and historical treasures in national parks for the benefit and enjoyment of the American people.

The dates for 2021 are:

Monday, January 18 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Saturday, April 17 – First Day of National Park Week
Wednesday, August 4 – One year anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act
Wednesday, August 25 – National Park Service Birthday
Saturday, September 25 – National Public Lands Day
Thursday, November 11 – Veterans Day

“Each of the fee-free days celebrates or commemorates a significant event, including the establishment earlier this year by President Trump of the Great American Outdoors Act. The legislation marks the single largest investment ever in national parks and will result in enhanced facilities and expanded recreational prospects for all visitors,” said Margaret Everson, Counselor to the Secretary, exercising the delegated authority of the National Park Service Director. “Throughout the country, every national park provides a variety of opportunities to get out in nature, connect with our common heritage and experience the vast array of benefits that come from spending time outdoors. Hopefully the fee-free days will encourage everyone to spend some time in their national parks.”

There are more than 400 National Park Service sites nationwide, with at least one in every state. Approximately 100 charge an entrance fee, with costs ranging from $5 to $35. The other 300-plus national parks do not have entrance fees.

Earlier this year, Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt signed Secretary’s Orders 3386 and 3387, granting veterans, Gold Star Families and fifth graders free access to all national parks, wildlife refuges and other Federal lands managed by the Department of the Interior. Veterans and Gold Star Families will have free access forever, while fifth grade students were granted the reprieve through this academic year as some of last year’s fourth graders may have been unable to make full use of the Every Kid Outdoors Annual Fourth Grade Pass due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Active duty military and fourth grade students will continue to have free access with discounted passes also available for senior citizens. For other visitors who love visiting our public lands, the annual $80 America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass is a great option, which allows unlimited entrance to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas, including all national parks.

Last year, 327 million people visited national parks and spent $21 billion in local communities. This supported 340,500 jobs across the country and had a $41.7 billion impact on the U.S. economy.


Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Big South Fork NRRA Needs You!

With over 400 miles of trails, Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area is seeking volunteers to assist in keeping them in great shape. If you enjoy the outdoors, and spending time in the park, join the park’s Trail Keepers program today.

The Trail Keeper program is for people who love the park’s trails and want to help take care of them. The goal of the program is to provide a presence in the backcountry, help maintain sections of trail, and provide park staff with trail condition updates.

“Volunteers are a vital part of the team. We couldn’t do what needs to get done without their knowledge, skills, and abilities,” said Superintendent Niki Stephanie Nicholas.

Currently, there are more than 70 different trails available for adoption. Trail keepers are expected to hike, bike, or horse ride their adopted trail at least four times during the calendar year. They also report on overall trail conditions, pick up any trash, and submit a trail report after each visit. Being a trail keeper does not involve heavy trail maintenance or the use of power equipment. Trail volunteers may use a small handsaw to remove small trees that have fallen across the trail and may move branches and other light maintenance by hand.

To learn more about the Big South Fork Trail Keeper program, email the park’s volunteer coordinator at or call (423) 569-9778.


Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Women’s Hiking Attire During The Victorian Era

The following is a short excerpt from my book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking:

For women, hiking attire during the Victorian Era was an extremely complicated affair. The subject was frequently discussed and debated throughout the pages of Appalachia during the first decade of the Appalachian Mountain Club. The December 1887 issue of Appalachia ran a lengthy article by Mrs. L. D. Pychowska on the “walking-costume for ladies.” It provided head to toe advice on how women should dress for a hike. This included wearing a grey flannel trouser beneath two skirts. The under skirt, which reached to just below the knee, was also to be made of grey flannel. The outer skirt, however, was to be made of winsey or Kentucky jean, both of which were considered to be strong enough to withstand tears from walking through briers and undergrowth. The outer skirt was also meant to be worn to ankle length. However, if the hiker were to find herself climbing steep terrain she could simply pull out a strong clasp pin and raise the skirt higher, “washwomen fashion,” until the difficult section was completed. “Basquines,” or corsets, were optional apparel according to the author. At the end of the piece the writer assured her readers that her recommendations on female tramping attire would be “sufficiently presentable to enter a hotel or a railroad car” after a long tramp through the woods, “without attracting uncomfortable attention.”

The true realities of wearing a “costume” such as this were not considered or debated in Mrs. Pychowska’s article. Conversely, a passage in an article from the June 1877 issue of Appalachia put an exclamation point on the true dangers women faced as a result of the clothing they were forced to wear while tramping. The author related the story of a guided hike on Mt. Washington during the prior year. While descending Tuckerman Ravine one of the ladies in the group paused momentarily to stand atop a large rock above a 25-foot outcrop. Unbeknownst to the hiker, her tattered dress had become caught on a sharp protrusion on the rock. When she attempted to jump to another large rock the snag violently jolted her back, and left her dangling upside down above the abyss. Fortunately her mountain guide was nearby and was able to pull her to safety before falling.

In one particular instance the burdensome attire that women were expected to wear may have been at least partially responsible for the death of one hiker. On September 13, 1855, 22-year-old Lizzie Bourne of Kennebunk, Maine became the first woman to die while climbing Mt. Washington, and quite possibly the first woman to die while hiking in America. On that late summer day Lizzie had planned to hike to the Tip Top House atop Mount Washington with her uncle George and her cousin Lucy. As a result of early morning rain, however, the trio was forced to postpone the start of their trip. Just after lunch the weather finally cleared and they set out by trekking up the partially completed carriage road. However, as they continued towards the summit of the peak, the threesome encountered another round of bad weather while proceeding along the Glen House Bridle Path, which continued to worsen as they climbed higher. In a letter to the Boston Journal, which was intended to provide “a correct account of the whole affair,” George Bourne attested that as they ascended towards the summit, “Elizabeth began to show signs of weariness, and needed assistance.” As night fell upon the mountain, darkness and fog completely obscured the view of their destination. Fatigue had also crept in on each of the hikers. Not knowing where they were, or how far they were from their destination, the trio made the decision to lie down on the trail and wait out the night. Despite building a wind break from nearby rocks, George was convinced that each of them would perish due to the extreme cold and the violent wind. Indeed, that night, around ten o'clock, Lizzie quietly passed away while lying on the trail. In his letter to the Boston Journal, Bourne stated that it was “evident that Elizabeth did not die from the cold alone, but from some organic affection of the heart or lungs, induced by fatigue and exposure.”

With the arrival of daylight the next morning George and Lucy tragically discovered that they were within sight of the Tip Top House. Had they known that they were that close they could’ve easily made it to safety, and Lizzie likely would’ve survived. After her death tourists and hikers began piling stones on the spot where Ms. Bourne died. A stone monument now stands on that same spot to mark and commemorate her passing.

Did Lizzie’s attire contribute to her death? Perhaps. She wore a heavy skirt, petticoat, pantaloons and stockings. Nicholas Howe, author of Not Without Peril: 150 Years Of Misadventure On The Presidential Range Of New Hampshire, estimates that Lizzie may have worn as much as 45 yards of fabric! When this outfit became soaked in cold rain there’s no doubt this would’ve weighed her down, resulting in more stress on her heart, and certainly would have accelerated the effects of fatigue, exposure and hypothermia.

While Mrs. Pychowska was espousing the benefits of wearing the proper costume to coincide with the mores of the Victorian Era, there was a long debate, at least among female members in the Appalachian Mountain Club, about what women should wear while hiking. During the May 9th meeting chronicled in the June 1877 edition of Appalachia, a Miss Whitman suggested that skirts be designed in a manner so that they “could be shortened to any necessary extent by rolling it up.” A Mrs. Nowell discussed the “disadvantage of ladies on mountain excursions on account of their long skirts, and recommended the use of gymnasium dresses or something similar, as an outside garment for such occasions.” In that same edition of Appalachia, Mrs. W.G. Nowell, one of the founding members of the club, and presumably the same Mrs. Nowell who spoke out during the May 9th meeting, published an article titled, “A Mountain Suit for Women.” In this piece Harriet Nowell once again took issue with the garb women were expected to wear during this era. She also mentioned the discussions she had with other women about the impracticalities and dangers of women’s hiking attire. Apparently they had carefully deliberated over what their alternatives were, and presented one possible solution: “The only thing we could think of was a good flannel bathing suit.” Mrs. Nowell continued by stating that they “could not see why it should be more improper to wear this” suit while hiking, “than it would be along a crowded and fashionable beach.” She went on to make the point that women would be “relieved of the excessive weight of her ordinary dress,“ thus allowing them to carry their own gear. She concluded her piece by declaring that “Our dress has done all the mischief. For years it has kept us away from the glory of the woods and the grandeur of the mountain heights. It is time we should reform.”

An article published on the Tramp and Trail Club of Utica website notes that by the 1920s women had solved the problem of impractical skirts by stuffing them in knapsacks once they had reached the trailhead, and then putting them back on before returning to town. Bold and daring women eschewed skirts altogether and simply wore knickers with long socks from their home. An online exhibit on the Museum of the White Mountains at Plymouth State University website, titled, Taking the Lead: Women and the White Mountains, notes that skirts had virtually disappeared by the mid-1910s, and by the 1930s women were wearing clothes similar to what female hikers wear today, including shorts and halter tops.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking chronicles the history of the first hikers, trails and hiking clubs, as well as the evolution of hiking gear and apparel, including many other stories about the attire both men and women wore during the early years of the sport. You can find the book on Amazon by clicking here.


Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Monday, December 7, 2020

No Guided First Day Hikes in North Carolina

This was posted on the North Carolina state parks website this past week:
All North Carolina state parks are closed on Christmas Day, December 25. Parks are open every other day of the holiday season, including New Year's Day.

Parks are not hosting any guided First Day Hikes on January 1. We encourage park visitors to conduct their own First Day Hikes with members of their household. Please note that parks may be busy on New Year's Day, so please be prepared for parking delays and make backup plans. Please follow social distancing guidelines, and bring a cloth face covering so you can wear one when you encounter other visitors along the trail.


Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Section of Elkmont Road to be Temporarily Closed for Road Repair

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have announced that a section of Elkmont Road will be temporarily closed to motorists for bridge repairs beginning Monday, December 7 through Friday, December 18. The closure will be in place Monday at 7:00 a.m. through Friday at noon each week. The area will be fully open to all access on the weekends.

The road closure begins at the Elkmont Campground and restricts motorist access to the Jakes Creek Trailhead and the Little River Trailhead. Day hikers may park at the Elkmont Campground, which is closed for the season, and walk to the trailheads. Backcountry permit holders may drive through the closure area and pass over the bridge under direction of the on-site construction crew to access the trailheads for overnight parking. Cemetery access will also be accommodated throughout the closure period.

The closure is necessary to efficiently and safely make the needed bridge repairs to the large bridge spanning Little River near the Little River Trailhead. This work is part of a larger Federal Highway Administration project to replace seven bridges and repair seven others across the park. Repair work includes repointing masonry, sealing cracks, and repairing deck joints.

For more information about road closures, please visit the park website at


Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Key Milestones in Hiking

The following timeline was adapted from my book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking:

Over the last several decades the sport of hiking has become one of the most popular outdoor activities in the world. According to the latest National Survey on Recreation and the Environment, 33.9% of all Americans above the age of 15 participated in hiking during the period between 2005 and 2009. This trend, however, leads to the burning question; when did people begin taking to the trail for pleasure? Since the dawn of humankind men and women have walked the earth to hunt, gather wild edible plants, explore, trade goods with neighboring communities, and migrate to other regions. At some point in our long evolution we as humans realized that there doesn’t have to be a utilitarian reason for walking. Somewhere along the line we discovered the joy of traipsing through the woods, observing the beauty of a wildflower, seeing wildlife in their natural habitat, marveling at the roar of a waterfall, or contemplating the awe-inspiring views from the top of a mountain. Is this a recent phenomenon, or is this an innate characteristic of human beings? No matter the answer to that question, here are the key milestones in the history of hiking that has led to its popularity today:

~3300 BCE: In 1991 two German tourists found the mummified remains of “Otzi the Iceman” in the Ă–tztal Alps along the Austrian–Italian border. Although scientists aren’t entirely sure what this late-Neolithic man was doing at an elevation hovering just over 10,500 feet, there are some that speculate that he may have been an early mountaineer. More importantly, the remnants of the rucksack that he carried on his back is the oldest rucksack ever found.

125: The 2nd century Roman Emperor, Hadrian, hiked to the summit of Mt. Etna on Sicily to see the sunrise, making this earliest recorded hike for pleasure.

1642: Darby Field makes the first recorded ascent of Mt. Washington, which would become the focus of the first tourist destination in the United States in the late 1700s.

1760: The Industrial Revolution begins in Great Britain, and is generally recognized as lasting until the start of World War I. The Industrial Revolution gave rise to the labor movement, automobiles, environmentalism, club culture, and even art. As a result, it is arguably the single most important event to spur the development of hiking and walking for pleasure.

1778: Thomas West, an English priest, publishes A Guide to the Lakes, a detailed account of the scenery and landscape of the Lake District in northwestern England. The guide helped to popularize the idea of walking for pleasure, and is credited as being one of the first travel guides.

1786: The modern era of mountaineering is marked by the first ascent of 15,771-foot Mont Blanc in France, the tallest peak in the Alps.

1799: Williams College (of Massachusetts) President Ebenezer Fitch ascends Mt. Greylock with two other companions.

1819: Abel Crawford, along with his son Ethan, blaze an 8.25-mile trail to the summit of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire. The path is recognized as the oldest continually used hiking trail in the United States, and is likely the first footpath in the entire world to be built specifically for recreational hiking.

1830: A crew of 100 students and professors from Williams College blaze the Hopper Trail to the summit of Mt. Greylock. Later that same year students constructed a 37-foot wooden tower atop the mountain. This tower, and its replacement, were maintained into the 1850s, and were used for sightseeing and scientific observations.

1850: The Exploring Circle is founded by Cyrus M. Tracey and three other men from Lynn, Massachusetts. The National Park Service recognizes the club as being “the first hiking club in New England", thus, in all likelihood, making it the first hiking club in the world.

1854: The beginning of the systematic sport of modern mountaineering as we essentially know it today is marked by the ascent of the Wetterhorn in the Swiss Alps by Sir Alfred Wills. His book, Wanderings Among the High Alps, published two years later, helped make mountaineering fashionable in Britain, and ushered in the systematic exploration of the Alps by British mountaineers. These events also marked the beginning of the so-called “Golden Age of Alpinism”.

1857: The world's first mountaineering club, the Alpine Club, was founded in London.

1863: Professor Albert Hopkins of Williams College founds the Alpine Club of Williamstown, whose stated mission was “to explore the interesting places in the vicinity, to become acquainted, to some extent at least, with the natural history of the localities, and also to improve the pedestrian powers of the members”. It was the first hiking club to accept women as members, which likely provided an important template for future hiking clubs.

1867: John Muir begins a 1000-mile walk from Indiana to Florida, which was recounted in his book, A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf. The trek launched a lifetime career of hiking and wilderness advocacy. His conservation efforts, articles and books would help to establish several national parks during and after his lifetime.

1872: Yellowstone becomes the world’s first national park after legislation is signed by President U.S. Grant.

1876: The Appalachian Mountain Club, America’s oldest recreational organization, is founded to explore and protect the trails and mountains of New England.

1876: Newtown, England entrepreneur Pryce Pryce-Jones designs the "Euklisia Rug", considered by many to be the forerunner of the modern sleeping bag. The rug included a wool blanket with a pocket at the top for a sewn-in, inflatable, rubber pillow. Once inside, the camper (or soldier) folded the blanket over and fastened it together, thus keeping themselves “snug in a rug”.

1877: English writer Louis Jennings publishes Field Paths and Green Lanes: Being Country Walks, Chiefly in Surrey and Sussex, which is likely the first trail guide to be published anywhere in the world.

1879: One of the first hiking clubs in England, the "Sunday Tramps", was founded by Leslie White. These early “rambling” (the English word for hiking or walking) clubs sprang up in the northern areas of England as part of a campaign for the legal "right to roam", a response to the fact that much of the land in England was privately owned.

1887: The first external frame rucksack is patented by Colonel Henry C. Merriam.

1922: Australian climber George Finch designs and wears a knee-length eiderdown parka during the 1922 British Everest Expedition. The shell of the coat was made from the waterproofed-cotton fabric of a hot-air balloon, which was filled with duck down. During the expedition Finch and climbing partner Geoffrey Bruce reached a height of 27,300 feet during their summit attempt, which set the record for the highest altitude attained by any human up to that point.

1922: Lloyd F. Nelson submits his application to the U.S. Patent Office for his "Trapper Nelson's Indian Pack Board", which is acknowledged to be the first commercially successful external-frame backpack to be sold in the U.S. The "Trapper Nelson" featured a wooden "pack board" as its frame. Attached to the frame was a canvas sack that contained the hiker's gear, which rested on the hiker's body by two canvas shoulder-straps. Prior to his invention most hikers used a rucksack, which was essentially a loose sack with shoulder straps.

1930: The Green Mountain Club completes construction of the Long Trail, making it the first long-distance hiking trail in the United States.

1937: Italian climber and mountaineering guide, Vitale Bramani, invents Carrarmato, or “tank tread". This new rubber lug pattern provides mountaineering boots with outstanding traction, and allows them to be used on a variety of surfaces. The product is launched under the brand name "Vibram".

1937: America's first “grand” trail, the Appalachian Trail, was completed in August of 1937. A forester by the name of Benton MacKaye conceived the idea in 1921.

1948: Earl Shaffer becomes the first person to thru-hike the entire Appalachian Trail.

1967: Climber Greg Lowe invents the internal frame backpack. The “Expedition Pack” also featured the first adjustable back system, first side compressors, first sternum strap and the first load stabilizers.

1968: The National Trails System Act is passed by Congress, resulting in thousands of miles of trails being designated as National Scenic Trails, National Historic Trails and National Recreation Trails.

1969: Bob Gore accidentally stretches a heated rod of polytetrafluoroethylene by almost 800%, which forms a microporous structure that was roughly 70% air. The discovery was introduced to the public under the trademark of "Gore-Tex", which became the first breathable, waterproof, and windproof fabric.

1992: Ray Jardine introduces the concept of ultralight backpacking with the release of his book, The Pacific Crest Trail Hiker's Handbook. During his first PCT thru-hike Jardine’s pack weighed just 25 pounds. By his third hike it weighed less than 9 pounds. “Ray’s Way” of thinking has led to several innovations that have benefitted both backpackers and hikers.

This timeline is only a brief overview of the people, events, inventions and social trends that have helped to shape the sport of hiking as we know it today. If you enjoyed this short snippet of hiking history, please check out my book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking, which provides a much more in-depth narrative on the history of hiking.


Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park