Don’t Cut Switchbacks

I’ll make you a deal.  If you are careful not to cause harm to the natural places you visit so that I may enjoy them just as much when I visit, I’ll do the same. That means no cutting switchbacks, especially on heavily used trails.


Hiking off-trail is fine where allowed and it is allowed quite often. But it does damage when done repeatedly in high traffic areas. This damage can easily lead to erosion since the trail builders didn’t build in durability features like water bars like they do on the real trail. Use common sense and walk on the trail if there is one close enough to where you want to go.

Trail builders and maintainers do us hikers a great service. Don’t ruin their work and cause trail erosion for the rest of us. Practice good etiquette and don’t cut.

Here is a good Forest Service resource if you want to understand a little more about what the trail builders are thinking and what goes into switchbacks – Trail Construction and Maintenance Notebook, p. 12

don't take shortcuts

Mineral King Cabins

Mineral King ValleyIn our 2005 backpacking trip, we began and ended our four day loop in spectacular Mineral King Valley in Sequoia National Park. It is an incredible setting surrounded by 12,000 ft mountains. The infamous Mineral King road plops you right into the thick of it.

We finished out our trail on the road at Atwell Mill with our car a few miles away at the Sawtooth trailhead. Luckily a friendly driver in a pickup truck came along and offered to haul us down the road a bit and that was music to our ears. It turned out he and a friend were heading to his cabin, one of the private cabins I briefly read about before the trip, and he even offered us beer. It was another offer we certainly couldn’t turn down. We followed them to the cabin and hung out on the small deck for a while before we left to make the long drive back to LA.

I have to admit, when I first learned there were private cabins in the middle of a National Park, and which had always been federal land, I thought it was a bit strange. Continue reading

What happened to eVent Fabric, Gore-Tex competitor?


Now eVent  Fabric is available again at REI.  The (updated) men’s Shuksan Jacket and Pants, the women’s Kulshan Jacket and Pants, and the OXT Airflyte Running Jacket, all with eVent Fabric are prominently on the front page of for the Fall season.  This is good to see.

I also found a PDF of a study by the US Army that shows eVent Fabric is superior.

What happened to REI’s Shuksan waterproof jacket and eVent Fabric?  The REI Shuksan jacket came out last year (2008) and it featured the Gore-Tex killer, eVent Fabric, and REI was pushing that heavily.   Continue reading