Tuesday 8 March 2011

New TGO and Scottish Mountaineer magazines

In the April issue of TGO, just out, I have a feature on how to reduce your pack weight and a review of 15 40-50 litre packs, the ideal size for lightweight backpacking. My backpacking column is about forests and their significance for me. Elsewhere in the magazine John Manning reviews boots costing £100 or less, Cameron McNeish calls on the Ramblers to renew support for Scotland and Wales and explores the Howgill Fells, Emily Rodway meets up with Natural Navigator Tristan Gooley, David Gray has a wonderful winter's day on Buachaille Etive Mor, photographer Ben Collins backpacks from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean across northern Spain, ten years after the foot and mouth debacle Chris Webber considers the changes it has wrought and Les Hudson looks at hitchhiking and hillwalking (I last hitchhiked last summer on the Pacific Northwest Trail when I needed to go off-trail to resupply).

Editor Kevin Howett interviewed me for a piece in the latest edition of The Scottish Mountaineer, the magazine of the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, and there's a review of my "Scotland" book. This issue also has an interesting piece on Ben Macdui in David Jarman's Roundabout Way up Scottish Mountains series (I think this is the first one where I was familiar with all of the route described),a chilling Hamish Brown story about an accident on the Aonach Eagach and an exciting account of a week long ski tour from Ben Nevis to Ben Avon by Roger and Finlay Wild.

The photo shows a forest camp on the Pacific Northwest Trail.


  1. A nice looking camp in the clearing. Chris, I notice you're cooking in camp and looking quite relaxed. Any bear issues in that location? I'm becoming a bit obsessed about animals coming into camp with recent fox and pig problems still fresh in my mind!
    Dave Porter

  2. Dave, there are black bears throughout most of the Pacific Northwest Trail and grizzlies in some areas. This camp was in the Kettle River Area, where there are black bears. However I heard of no problems with bears along the PNT and outside of national parks I was camping in places where few people if any ever camped. I cooked in camp throughout except in Glacier National Park where there are designated cooking areas in backcountry campgrounds. For most of September I cooked in the tent vestibule as it rained much of the time. I did see black bears on three occasions, none of them in camp.

    In camp various rodents did try and steal my food and I lost my pot stuffsack at one site where I got up in the middle of the night to hang my food. Usually though the food stuffsacks were stored just in the vestibule.

    I did have pig problems on the GR20 in Corsica a few years ago. One stole a sandal!

  3. Hi Chris,
    On the PNT were you ever worried of animals coming to your tent when you were in there at night ? Did you have a plan of escape ? I suppose wild camping in the UK would be wilder were wolves and bears around.


  4. Hi Alastair,
    I wasn't worried about bears coming into camp - outside of popular areas like Yosemite it's extremely rare. If a bear had approached the camp - which happened to me once in the Canadian Rockies - I would make noise and if it didn't leave pack up and move. Black bears will generally run away if you make a noise. The two I met on the trail both ran off as soon as they knew I was there. The third sighting was a bear with cubs in a distant meadow which I watched through binoculars.

    Wolves aren't a threat. I've heard them howling near my camp and seen them in the Yukon, which is wonderful.

    The most likely animals to raid camps are rodents and I did have some trouble with these in a very few places. Mostly though it's popular camp sites that attract animals and I camped on few of these.

    Although many people worry about bears in US wilderness areas you are far more likely to be struck by lightning, drown in a stream, slip and injure yourself or get hypothermia - all of which can occur in the UK!

  5. I had a skunk in my tent on the camp site at Bryce. Not what you want, really.

    No sign of wildlife at a remote camp in Idaho even though my two local colleagues barbecued salmon.