Doug's Backpacking and Hiking Pages
Wow, look at the grass stains on my skin. I say, if your knees aren't green by the end of the day, you ought to seriously re-examine your life. -- Calvin


a.r.h FAQ v1.4

a.r.h 1.4 not-yet-posted; l/m  2001/9/17

alt.rec.hiking FAQ -- v 1.4b -- 17 September 2001

Q1. Is there a FAQ? A1. *NOW* there is.

Q2. I hate this newsgroup, are there others like it? A2. Yes, here are some others you might merely loathe:

rec.backcountry - fairly high volume, the focus is mostly on backpacking (USA meaning: see Q9) and really getting away from civilization. Has been polluted lately by trolls, bigots, fools, and politics junkies, so you'll probably need to set up filters.

rec.outdoors.camping - high volume, seems to be mostly about car-camping and all kinds of trailers.

rec.outdoors.national-parks - USA, mostly. Largely overlaps the previous two newsgroups, but with the obvious somewhat restricted focus.

rec.outdoors.marketplace - outdoors-related stuff for sale, for auction, and wanted ("WTB:").

And so you a.r.h readers can see where I'm coming from:

alt.rec.hiking - low volume, might not have been created "properly", therefore gets poor propagation. Focus is on hiking rather than backpacking. Though current USENET demographics imply that subjects tend to involve the USA, that emphasis is not imposed by a.r.h's nonexistent charter. - see Q/A#9.

There are a few other newsgroups that might be considered to be related to alt.rec.hiking:, rec.climbing, rec.skiing.backcountry, and some *.walking groups. And some regional ones.

To locate the FAQ-like postings in either rec.backcountry or rec.climbing, seek out "Distilled Wisdom" postings by Eugene Miya.

Q3. How 'bout web sites? A3. Start with some of these general-hiking-information sites: GORP <>; peak to peak <>; Backpacker Mag <>; Lightweight Backpacker <>;

There are plenty of others. I mostly like trip reports, especially the ones about the Sierra Nevada (since they describe trips which are relatively close to where I live), and the ones whose owner is an especially good writer. Examples of these are the hiking, backpacking, and/or climbing sites done by Charles Hayden, Frank Farmer, Michael Gordon ("Gordie's Ramblings"), Tom Hilton, Tom Kenney, and Sara "thermophile" Boomer. Most of these sites can be reached from the California section of the peak-to-peak site, <>;. One exception is Sara Boomer's, at <>;

[Just a sampling; if I didn't mention your site here, it is (despite Sturgeon's Law) most likely because I haven't seen it.]

Q4. Mailing lists? A4. There are some hiking- and outdoors-oriented mailing lists that are intended to be global in scope, though they tend to be predominantly US-specific because of the net's demographics. There are tons of regional hiking-oriented mailing lists, and even some trail-specific ones, including AT-L (Appalachian Trail), PCT-L (Pacific Crest Trail), etc. The easiest way to find regional mailing lists relevant to your region might be to contact your local chapter of the Sierra Club, if there is one. If you can't find an email list for your region, hey, it's easy enough to start one at (Or [Are any of the other free email list providers still alive?])

Here is some info about the non-regional mailing lists that I am most familiar with (OUTDOR-L, BACKPACK-L, freshair, no-gear, and BackpackingLight):

OUTDOR-L, the "Outdoor Discussion Group" one of the oldest outdoors-oriented mailing lists still in use -- it was originally from the old IBM mainframe "BITNET" days! The list is pretty low volume, high quality. To subscribe, send a message to LISTSERV@LISTSERV.LOUISVILLE.EDU, whose body contains "subscribe OUTDOR-L".

BACKPACK-L, the "Backpackers List". For a list of commands, send the message: INFO COMMANDS to <>;

freshair - Michael Allen Gelman's list, moderately low volume, might average four messages a week. To sign up via the web, go to <>;

no-gear - My moribund, *very* low volume list. Intended for all kinds of trip reports, trail info, etc., but excluding chatter about equipment. To join, sign up via the web: <>;

BackpackingLight - a very high volume list, averaging nearly fifty messages a day. The main subject is how to lighten your backpacking load -- in some sense the opposite of my "no-gear" list. Lots of input about home-made ultra-lightweight gear (usually stoves, tents/tarps, or packs), discussions about some of the ideas popularized by Ray Jardine. Occasionally there will be list-announced trips or get-togethers. Sign up via the web: <>;

A sample of some regional ones (SF Bay Area)

[SF] Bay Area Hiking (at <>;

[SF] Bay Area Backpacking (at

Desert Survivors <>; is an Oakland (CA) based organization which concentrates on desert conservation issues; and holds organized hikes and backpacking trips. Must be a member ($20/year) in order to be on their email list.

PCT-L - the list for the Pacific Crest Trail Association; see <>;

Sierra Club Loma Prieta Chapter, Day-Hiking Section <>; Sierra Club Loma Prieta Chapter, Peak-Climbing Section <>;

Q5. Is it OK to list eBay items here? A5. The proper newsgroup for such things is rec.outdoors.marketplace. People looking for stuff to buy will more likely be looking for it there than here. On rec.outdoors.marketplace, a few subject- line prefixes are fairly common: "FS:" is "For Sale:", "WTB:" means "Want To Buy", and "eBay:" seems to mean "For Sale via Auction" ("FA:" is also sometimes used for this purpose).

Q6. How are conditions at Snowy Ridge? Is Bear Creek crossable? Twin Lakes camping? Kennedy Meadows trailheads? White Mountains? A6. How in heck should I know *which* Twin Lakes? Which White Mountains? Which "Top of the World" park? PLEASE make your *question* educational. If you start a thread, don't use "YNP". Instead, spell it out, since we don't know whether you have California or Wyoming (or eastern British Columbia) in mind.

Your question will be read not just by the folks who can answer it, but also by thousands of lurkers, each of whom has an answer for a few of the questions that will be posted here. The lurkers stay here only as the group stays interesting -- many of them read in order to learn things. You *want* to have an army of lurkers reading the newsgroup, so that there will be a few who can answer your question. One way to keep these lurkers reading is to provide useful information as a part of your question. Like, say, WHAT CONTINENT YOUR QUESTION IS ABOUT!?!??!!! It is better to provide what you *do* know about the location in which you're interested.

Slightly more effective (though somewhat dubious ethically) is to post some intentionally inaccurate information about the place -- then someone will be sure to correct your apparent misapprehensions. Best of all, IMHO, would be to do the research on your own, do your trip, and then write us a nice trip report about it.

Q7: Will I like High Mountain River Canyon State National Wilderness Park? What's the best hike/backpack trip there? A7: How the heck should we know *what* you like? We don't know you. We don't know if you're a fit, experienced long-distance hiker, a climber, an RVer, a peak-bagger, a trailside botanist, a trailrunner, a naturist, a naturalist, or a rockhound. We don't know if you have a dog, have rain gear, hate heat, like swimming, hate bathing suits, fear bears, drive a wheelchair, love bats, hunt elk, bring children, like caves, prefer thick forests or wide-open views, mountains, beaches, swamps, or deserts. Or desserts. As one of the acronyms in Q/A12 says, TWIAVBP -- The World Is A Very Big Place. You have to tell us a little about yourself, your capabilities and experience, and your likes and dislikes, before we have a ghost of a chance of helping you out with many of the questions y'all have.

Q8. Stop me if you've heard this one before... A8. Stop. Yes, we have *ALL* heard that grizzly scat contains bells from hikers who climbed trees faster than their partners, whom the black bear caught, just before the grizzly knocked down the tree.

Q9. Where's the International Youth Hostel in Kathmandu? A9. You probably want to ask in rather than alt.rec.hiking. In the USA, the word "backpacking" is used almost exclusively to mean wilderness trekking in the backcountry, sleeping in tents, under tarps, or just under the stars, and walking for days carrying all of your own food, shelter, and water purification system. In other words, it usually excludes buildings.

Q10. HTML? A10. NO!

Q11. Sierras ... A11. Careful, some folk take offense at the term "Sierras", since it is one mountain range. These folks would be happier if you say "Sierra" or "Sierra Nevada" or "Here, take this million dollars, I don't need it".


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