Naukluft Hiking Trail Namibia – 8 Days Through Wondrous Desolation

Imagine a place so remote that you do not see another human being for days. Imagine a trail through desolate valleys, over mountains and across large flat plains of sand, rocks and tufts of dry grass. The Naukluft Hiking Trail in Namibia takes you through such a place.

It all starts at an old house perched on top of a small hill in what is known as the Namib-Naukluft Park in South Western Namibia. Hikers Haven is the base camp of this incredible trail. Here one can enjoy one last beer, grilled steak and warm shower. There after follow 8 days of carrying a heavy backpack through some of the most beautiful and desolate areas Namibia has to offer.

Normally one needs to get up at about 5 in the morning to be able to hit the trail by 7. Day one is no exception, and covers a distance of 14km. There is a lovely lookout point at “Panorama” as one starts rising up into the mountains a few kilometers into the hike. Spend some time here and enjoy the view of the plain below.

From here the trail steadily rises higher up into the Naukluft Mountains. A good spot for lunch is “Fontein Kloof”. There are some large trees for shade and the spring usually flows.

As with most of the overnight shelters on this trail, the shelter at “Putte” for tonight is merely a square stone structure with a wall about 1.2m high, over which a tin roof is supported by some steal pipes. The floor is gravel. Approximately 150m from the shelter is a borehole with a big flywheel that needs to be turned for water.

Day two is 15km in length and takes one into the famous Ubusis Kloof or ravine. The descent into the ravine is accomplished with the aid of a number of chains, some of which are up to 30m in length and act as aids down the cliff faces. As one descends further down, a geological time capsule is exposed in the layers of rock to ones sides. The scenery is quite breathtaking.

Ubusis hut is the only “normal” accommodation on this trail. This hut used to be a small vacation home many years ago when the area still consisted of farms. Water is supplied by means of a wind pump and borehole.

Day three takes one back out of Ubusis Kloof the way one went down the day before. At the top, once one reaches Bergpos, the trail turns due north across Kudu Plains. This day is only 12km long and is considered the easiest of all the days.

At the end of the Kudu Plains lies the Adlerhorst overnight shelter, which can be reached by the early afternoon. This leaves plenty of time to admire the scenery and relax a bit. Water is again supplied via a borehole with a handle on top of the pipe.

When we got there, the opening of the borehole pipe was covered in hundreds of bees desperately waiting for someone to turn the handle and pump some water out for them. Nobody got stung even once. It seems as if they realized that the humans coming to this place were their only hope of getting some water.

The fourth day tends to be a bit tricky, and is quite long at 17km. The tricky part comes when one has to descend a waterfall in a dried out river bed with the help of a long chain. The angle of the rocks makes this a difficult descent.

Further on there is another steep descent down the side of a mountain of loose slate. In the past this has been the cause of injuries to hikers slipping on the slate.

The Tsams-Ost overnight shelter contains a large water tank on a perch that is supplied with water from a borehole and wind pump. It is possible to have a cold shower standing underneath the tank.

The next day, day five, starts off with a stiff climb up the mountain behind the Tsams-Ost overnight shelter, and covers another 17km.

Some hours later one reaches Melkbos Plain. This plain involves many kilometers of marching along sandy tracks and through dried out river beds. It is here that one is most likely to see herds of antelope such as Eland or Kudu grazing on the sparse grass and vegetation.

The Die Valle overnight shelter is surrounded on three sides by mountains, and the sun tends to set rather early behind these mountains. Water is left here in a small water tanker which may not contain much water especially at the end of the hiking season, so washing is very limited on this day.

Day six tends to be the longest and most difficult of the whole trail. Even though it is only 16km long, one spends most of the day going up.

Immediately after leaving the Die Valle overnight shelter, there is a 200m vertical climb to the top of a waterfall. There after one follows a gorge and stream that feeds this waterfall for most of the day, climbing ever upwards.

It is along this gorge that one comes across some interesting geological formations called Tufa. Tufa is a sedimentary rock containing a lot of carbonates that are deposited by means of water. It often forms at waterfalls or streams. Here in this gorge, the Tufa looks like a gigantic solidified waterfall. Higher up one comes across a huge fig tree whose roots run all along a small cliff face.

Once on top of the gorge, there is a small flat plateau to cross before starting the long descent along an old jeep track to the Tufa overnight shelter. Be careful at the bottom of the track as the shelter is almost hidden amongst some bushes to the left. Water is again supplied in the form of a borehole next to a dried out stream bed about 150m from the shelter.

Day seven covers 14km and takes one to the highest, and usually the coldest point of the hike at Kapokvlakte.

From the Tufa overnight shelter, the trail crosses some very large boulders as it heads in the direction of the mountains again. At the base of the mountains that eventually lead up to Kapokvlakte, there are some chains to help one up some of the more difficult cliff faces.

Once at the top, the trail follows a steadily rising dried out stream bed until it reaches the top at World’s View. The name is very appropriate, as one can see for many kilometers into the distance. It’s a good place to stop for awhile and admire the view across the plains below, and to the mountains on the other side. From here the terrain is fairly flat and the going easy.

The Kapokvlakte overnight shelter is usually reached by early afternoon. The shelter is hidden behind a clump of bushes which are virtually the only larger vegetation in the area. The rest of the plateau is covered in short grass and the occasional small bush. Kapokvlakte can get very cold at night, and the use of a down feather sleeping bag is a must here.

The last day has finally arrived. By now everyone is dreaming of fat steaks and beer, but there is still a 16km slog ahead. A few kilometers across the top of the plateau, and the trail makes its long descent along a winding gorge down to Hikers Haven.

As the day gets warmer one can hear more and more insects and other small creatures in this lonely gorge. Be careful of picking up rocks. Very often there are scorpions hiding underneath them.

As one gets lower down the trail, there are small pools with large trees on the sides which make for good resting spots. A few hundred meters from Hikers Haven, there is a camp site. Here one may come across the first other humans again after having spent so many days in the wilderness. By now you may also spot the roof of the old house at Hikers Haven. Just a few hundred meters more and one is back. What a time it had been!

Now one can finally get a hot shower again! For those that brought vacuum packed meat and managed to keep it cool in their cars over this period, there will be a feast tonight!

Hiking in the Pindus Range, Greece

The Pindus Mountains, which bisect the country, running from North to South, are often referred to as ‘the spine of Greece’. This 160km long mountain range runs from the Albanian border all the way to the north of the Peloponnese Peninsula. Its highest point is Mount Smolikas, which is 2,637 metres tall. This range is one of the best places to hike in Greece, with its varied geography of high mountain peaks, rolling hills, lush valleys and deep, dramatic gorges. Along its varied length there are two National Parks, Aoos-Vitus National Park and Pindus National Park.

One of the most popular walks in the Aoos-Vitus National Park is the walk through the Vikos Gorge. This route, it should be noted, is not a walk in the park. While well-maintained, this is an ankle-twisting trail which traverses the limestone uplands of Mount Gamila for 20km. Be sure to check conditions before you set off as the snowmelt of April or early May can often make the end nearest Monodhéndhri impassable. Be warned that heavy rainfall can also lead to landslides on the sides of the gorge. Still, if you set out well-prepared then you will be rewarded by the spectacular scenery – the gorge walls are sometimes over 1000 metres in height and tower over you in rocky splendour.

Another option is the beautiful walk along the banks of the river Aoos. This gorge walk as also dramatically stunning. You can walk from Konitsa and those who have a good level of fitness could consider continuing the walk up to the summit of Mount Papigo. There are many signposted trails around Vikos and Aoos that provide walking options for a range of fitness levels, ages and abilities.

Unfortunately, the surprisingly little-known Pindus National Park does not benefit from such good signage. Even getting there from the main road is a bit of a mission as there are no proper signs. You can gain access to this rugged wilderness by way of the village of Perivoli to the north.

The dirt roads that cross the mountains and weave their way through the dense black pine and beech forests of this area are perfect for hiking and more than likely if you are in search of peace and solitude then you will find it. If you are lucky you may see a glimpse of a brown bear – this is one of three regions in Greece still populated by these shy animals. If you walk in Flegga Forest, you may also catch sight of wolves, lynxes, wild cats, deer or wild boar. If you are looking for somewhere different to go, then Pindus National Park could be the perfect place as it is unlikely that anyone you know has been. This is the least known and least visited national park in Europe, which is a shame, unless you are looking to escape the crowds that is.

The Pindus Mountain Range is ideal for a real escape into nature, on hiking trails you are likely to have entirely to yourself.

Ultralight Backpacking Water Treatment

Water is one of the most important items in your pack, and one of the heaviest. You need it to sustain energy. You need it to avoid body aches, headaches, and becoming so uncomfortable that you don’t enjoy your hiking experience.

If you can avoid carrying too much water, you’ll enjoy a far lighter pack. Your ability to find safe water and know how and when to treat it is a valuable skill. Pathogens can sometimes be found in water that seems safe. Much of the water we find outdoors is safe, especially at high elevations and when you’re near the original source. Always consider what is upstream, and err on the side of caution if you don’t know what is above you. Does the water look clear? Don’t worry too much about small animal life in the water. Worry more if there isn’t any life in the water, and ask why.

Some experts talk about running water being safer than still water, but studies have found lake water to be among the cleanest because the ultraviolet rays of the sun kill bacteria near the surface. When taking water from a lake or pond, take water under the surface, but near the surface. Check the rate of water that is flowing into and out of the lake. Are there any stock animals or other animals that could make the water impure?

Much of the response to the threat of Giardia is overkill. A favorite scholarly article on Giardia was written by Robert L. Rockwell, PhD. It’s titled, Giardia Lamblia and Giardiasis, With Particular Attention to the Sierra Nevada. Bob Rockwell is an active mountaineer who made his first trip into the Sierra Nevada in 1952 to climb Mt. Whitney, and he repeats this climb several times annually. He has a bachelor’s degree in Physics from UC-Berkeley, and a PhD in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering (Biomechanics) from Stanford.

The article is so good and informative, that its first seven paragraphs are quoted below:

Ask the average outdoors person about Giardia lamblia or giardiasis, and they have certainly heard about it. Almost always, however, they are considerably misinformed about both the organism’s prevalence in wilderness water, and the seriousness of the disease if contracted.

With the advent of the Internet, the amount of information one can easily find on the subject is voluminous. Unfortunately, most of it is flawed in important aspects, being unsubstantiated, anecdotal, or merely quoting other unsubstantiated and anecdotal articles. Official sources, such as many informational publications put out by the US government, are not immune to this criticism.

This paper is the result of a critical distillation of relevant articles, retaining only those from scholarly, peer-reviewed, or otherwise professional and trustworthy sources.

One conclusion of this paper is that you can indeed contract giardiasis on visits to the Sierra Nevada, but it won’t be from the water. So drink freely and confidently: Proper personal hygiene is far more important in avoiding giardiasis than treating the water.

First, an excerpt written by a highly regarded wilderness physician:

“In recent years, frantic alarms about the perils of giardiasis have aroused exaggerated concern about this infestation. Government agencies, particularly the United States Park Service and the National Forest Service, have filtered hundreds of gallons of water from wilderness streams, found one or two organisms (far less than enough to be infective), and erected garish signs proclaiming the water ‘hazardous.”

And another, by researchers who surveyed the health departments in all 50 states and scanned the medical literature looking for evidence that giardiasis is a significant threat to outdoor folk:

Neither health department surveillance nor the medical literature supports the widely held perception that giardiasis is a significant risk to backpackers in the United States. In some respects, this situation resembles (the threat to beachgoers of a) shark attack: an extraordinarily rare event to which the public and press have seemingly devoted inappropriate attention.

The entire article can be found at the web address listed at the beginning of the quote.

Water-borne pathogens are disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and protozoa you can get from impure water. Protozoa are hard-shelled, single-cell parasites, or cysts, that range from 2 to 15 microns in size. The giardia lamblia cyst is one of the most common water-borne parasites in the United States. Cryptosporidium is also a protozoa, and cryptosporidiosis exhibits symptoms similar to giardiasis, including diarrhea, fatigue, fever, weight loss, nausea, and vomiting. Bacteria are smaller than protozoa, and range in size from .2 to 10 microns. They include E. coli and salmonella. Viruses are even smaller at .004 to .1 microns, and carry diseases like hepatitis.

When hiking at lower elevations, you need to be cautious of manmade contamination from agriculture and industry, including herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers.

No matter what water treatment system you use, be sure your hands are clean, especially after bathroom breaks. This is one of the most important points of this article. Impure hands can often transfer microorganisms to food or water, and the water gets blamed for the result.

Six main methods of purifying your water are available, and there are lightweight options for each.

1. Boiling

Boiling is the oldest and most basic way to purify water. A rolling boil will destroy any pathogens. You can kill microorganisms at sustained heat that is less than a boil, but it’s difficult to measure in the field. Make sure the water is actually boiling. A rolling boil is big bubbles that shake the pan, not a few tiny bubbles on the bottom of the pan. To be safe, bring the water to a rolling boil for 3 to 5 minutes. As a general rule, add one minute of boiling time for each 1,000 feet of elevation above sea level. If you’re using the water for cooking, there’s no extra time, fuel weight, or cost involved. But boiling water for drinking is slow and tedious, and adds to the weight of the fuel in your pack. The real weight of boiling water is the weight of the extra fuel you need to carry.

2. Iodine

This has been the simplest, most compact, and most cost-effective system for many years. It kills bacteria and many viruses, but not cryptosporidium. Fortunately, cryptosporidium is still quite rare in North American natural water sources. Two tablets are used for each liter or quart of water (32 ounces). A quart is 95% of a liter. If you believe the water to be heavily contaminated, double the dose or contact time. In general, if you are in a hurry, double the chemical dose and halve the contact time. If you want better flavor, halve the dose and double the contact time. For cold water, the tablets take longer to work, so wait for the full recommended time. After adding the tablets to your water, you need to wait up to 30 minutes before you drink. If you rush the waiting time and drink the water, the iodine won’t work to deactivate the pathogens in your stomach.

The most common brand of iodine tablets in the United States is “Potable Aqua.” The bottle has 50 tablets that can treat up to 25 quarts of water. The suggested cost is $6.95. The packaging says “No unpleasant taste,” but most people would strongly disagree, although the taste may bring back pleasant memories of camping as a youth. Even the Potable Aqua brand sells a version of the tablets that come with a second tablet to neutralize the taste. The suggested cost of the combination of iodine tablets and neutralizer is $10.95. This second “PA Plus” tablet that neutralizes the taste, iodine odor, and brown color of the water is simply vitamin C. You need to wait until the iodine has done its work before adding the ascorbic acid tablet. You can crush your own vitamin C and add it to the treated water. Remember to add only enough to make the water clear. Your body can handle extra vitamin C, but too much can lead to diarrhea. After the iodine has done its work, you can also add powdered drinks instead of vitamin C to mask the iodine flavor.

Experts argue over how much iodine is too much for the body. Iodine is essential to thyroid function. It is often added to salt because water and foods are sometimes deficient in iodine. With that said, the Potable Aqua packaging information says, “Not to be used on a continuous basis. For short term or limited emergency use only.” Some literature suggests using iodine tablets for six weeks or less. Although iodine is rapidly metabolized and cleared from the body, you should not use iodine tablets if you have an allergy to iodine, an active thyroid disease, or are pregnant.

Iodine tablets come in a brown bottle to help protect them from large temperature changes. Keeping the tablets dry helps them remain more stable. The tablets will last for up to four years unopened, and seem to work more quickly if they are fresh. They degrade with air, water, or light exposure, but since they are inexpensive, they can easily be replaced every year. The manufacturer of the tablets suggests against switching to a smaller bottle. So, with that warning, if you make the switch, be sure to use a tight, brown bottle that keeps the tablets dry. Even the original cotton in the bottle is meant to absorb any moisture that may be present. If you re-package the tablets to a smaller bottle, try to keep a little of the cotton.

When you treat water in a container with a lid, be sure to let some of the treated water clean the threads of the cap.

Of course, you won’t remove particulate by boiling water, using iodine or chlorine dioxide-based tablets, or ultraviolet light systems. So, if the water looks murky, you may want to start with a pre-filter that’s as simple as a coffee filter or cloth.

The weight of a bottle of iodine tablets is 1.1 ounces. If you purchase the PA Plus that neutralizes the taste and odor, you’ll double the weight. If you re-package the tablets into a one-dram (1/8 oz.) brown bottle, the weight of the bottle is just .2 ounces and will hold 40 tablets, for a total weight of only .3 ounces. If you want to add your own vitamin C and keep the weight down, remember that powders in small ziplock bags can get in the re-sealable closures of the bags and make them difficult to use. You may want to use the smallest, lightest plastic container you can find.

Another iodine treatment is iodine crystals. This product is marketed in the United States under the brand name “Polar Pure.” About 30 small crystals of crystalline iodine come in a 3.2 ounce brown glass bottle. When the bottle is full of water the weight is 4.9 ounces. The suggested retail price is $12.95. You add water to the original small bottle for one hour before putting it in the water that needs to be treated. Of course, this pre-treating can be done as you hike. When you pour from the bottle, the crystals of iodine remain in the bottle. You can treat from 2 to 6 quarts of water at a time. After adding the solution to the water to be treated, wait 20 minutes before drinking.

Water to be treated that is colder than 68 degrees F will take longer. A warmer solution of the original mixture from the bottle will have a higher concentration of iodine. So, fewer capfuls will be required, and more water can be treated before refilling the Polar Pure bottle. You can warm the bottle in your pocket or in sunlight. Dosage instructions, as well as thermal reactive paint on the bottle, tell you how much liquid to pour from the bottle into the water that is to be disinfected.

Pure iodine crystals are stable and slightly soluble in water but evaporate easily. The Polar Pure bottle should be kept filled with water and tightly capped. Water that has been treated should be tightly sealed, too. After the necessary disinfection time, powdered drinks or vitamin C can be added to make the taste more pleasant. Polar Pure has an indefinite shelf life. One bottle treats up to 2,000 quarts of water, so it’s very cost-effective. Some long-distance hikers have used the same bottle for their entire trip.

3. Chlorine dioxide

Another chemical treatment for water is chlorine dioxide. The most common brand is “Aqua Mira.” The lightest version is a package with two one-ounce bottles that have a total weight of 3.1 ounces, including a mixing cap. The suggested retail price is $13.95. This kit will treat up to 30 gallons (120 quarts) of water. The advantages of Aqua Mira are its light weight, low cost, compactness, and good taste, as well as its ability to kill pathogens including cryptosporidium. Chlorine dioxide is used worldwide to treat municipal water supplies, and is known to be an eradicator of bacteria (E-coli, salmonella, legionella), viruses (rolio, rotovirus, hepatitis), and protozoa (giardia and cryptosporidium). The oxidation kills pathogens by breaking down their cell walls. There is no chlorine in Aqua Mira. Even though chlorine dioxide has the word chlorine in its name, the two chemicals have completely different chemical structures. Part A of the kit contains 2% stabilized chlorine dioxide in an aqueous solution, and Part B contains phosphoric acid activator.

To treat a quart of water, you place 7 drops of Part A and 7 drops of Part B in the mixing cap. If the water is cloudy or tinted, use 15 drops of each. You let the mixture react for 5 minutes, and then add it to the quart of water. Shake to mix. Let stand for 15 minutes. If the water is very cold, cloudy, or tinted, let stand for 30 minutes. Some people report a chlorine-like odor. The promotional literature, and some testers, report that the treatment improves the taste of the water. Chlorine dioxide does not discolor water. The kit has a four-year shelf life even after it is opened. Chlorine dioxide is available in tablet form in the Aqua Mira brand as well as some other brands, but takes much longer to use.

4. Filtration

Filters can give you treated water quickly, without any chemical taste. They work by trapping pathogens in a microporous screen. Some viruses are too small to trap. Only filters with an iodine matrix are capable of killing all viruses. All filters eventually need cleaning, sometimes in the field. Filter lifetime is determined by the quantity and size of particles in the water. Filters may also clog from the growth of organisms in the filter medium. Some filters can be back flushed. Some can be chemically cleaned. Some need a replacement filter. Ceramic filters can be cleaned and can last a long time, but care must be taken so they don’t break, especially when it’s cold. To qualify as a water purifier, a device has to meet the Environmental Protection Agency standard of removing 99.99 % of all identifiable bacteria, protozoa, and viruses. Finer filters generally mean slower and more difficult pumping.

Filters can be as small and simple as the “McNett/Aqua Mira Emergency Frontier” filter that uses activated carbon to filter up to 20 gallons of water. It is used like a straw, weighs less than an ounce, and retails for around $10. Lightweight “bottle filters” from such companies as “Bota of Boulder,” “H2O On Demand,” and the “Katadyn Exstream” are light at about five to eight ounces, and inexpensive at around $20 to $50. Some list incredibly high microorganism and contaminant removal, including 99.99% removal of giardia and cryptosporidium. Of course, these filters aren’t free flowing. You have to suck to get the water through.

Pump filters include well-known brands like “Timberline,” “Katadyn,” “First Need,” and “MSR/Sweetwater.” They can be as light and inexpensive as the Timberline Eagle at 5.6 ounces and $25. This filter is one of the fastest and works well in water that is not heavy in particulate. The Katadyn Hiker is not the lightest at 11 ounces, but is a favorite because it is so user-friendly. It retails for $60. The Katadyn Mini Ceramic Microfilter is among the lightest at 8 ounces and is known for its quality. The price is $90.

Backpackers like gravity-fed filters because of their obvious advantage of getting filtered water without the pumping. The Katadyn Base Camp weighs 12.1 ounces and has a suggested retail price of $65.

5. Ultraviolet light devices

Ultraviolet light is becoming popular because it’s effective in quickly killing all microorganisms. The ultraviolet light destroys their DNA which prevents them from reproducing. Early models were expensive and didn’t work with a wide variety of water containers, but that’s all changing. The “SteriPEN Adventurer” weighs 3.6 ounces and ships with two CR123 batteries. Rechargeable batteries are also available. Nickel metal hydride batteries are recommended for cold weather use. This style or lithium disposable batteries will give you about 200 treatments. The Adventurer can purify a quart of water in 48 seconds. The cost is $129.95.

The “mUV water purifier,” or “AquaBobber,” from Meridian Design, Inc. weighs 2.4 ounces and costs $49.99. It operates with an internal battery that can be recharged by attaching its magnetically connectable leads to almost any external battery including AAA, AA, C, and D sizes. The device floats and can be inserted into almost any container, including a standard water bottle opening. A quart of water can be treated in 90 seconds. You can perform 20 treatments per charge.

Agitate the water gently, until the light tells you it’s done. UV purifiers don’t work in murky water, so if that’s the only water you have, you’ll have to pre-filter it until it’s not cloudy. You also need to make sure you don’t drop a UV device.

6. Sodium hypochlorite (Household bleach)

A large number of agencies, including the Red Cross, tell you that ordinary bleach, such as Clorox or Purex can treat water in emergencies. The Clorox website lists these instructions:

“Disinfection of Drinking Water (Potable)

When boiling of water for 1 minute is not practical, water can be made potable by using this product. Prior to addition of this product, remove all suspended material by filtration or by allowing it to settle to the bottom. Decant the clarified contaminated water to a clean container and add 8 drops of this product to 1 gallon of water (2 drops to 1 quart). Allow the treated water to stand for 30 minutes. Properly treated water should have a slight chlorine odor. If not, repeat dosage and allow the water to stand an additional 15 minutes. The treated water can then be made palatable by pouring it between clean containers several times. For cloudy water, use 16 drops of this product per gallon of water (4 drops to one quart). If no chlorine odor is apparent after 30 minutes, repeat dosage and wait an additional 15 minutes.”

The dosage listed is for treated city water, so lake and stream water will likely need the higher amounts. Use only liquid bleach that contains 5.25% to 6% sodium hypochlorite and doesn’t have any perfumes, dyes, or other additives. Be sure to read the label. Treating with bleach should be thought of as an emergency method. Although countless websites list this method of treatment, they do not show data for effectiveness against giardia, cryptosporidium, and other pathogens. And these sources do not list the effects of long-term use on the body.

There is an abundance of information about water treatment from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control.

Now you’re equipped with a wide variety of water treatment options. Your region and style of camping will tell you what water treatment is right for you. Hike light. Have fun.

Budget Backpacking to Arrow Lake in Glacier National Park

Arrow Lake is located in Glacier National Park. As your drive to Glacier you travel through rolling foothills only to suddenly see this geological wonder of huge mountains jutting out of the landscape. Known for its pristine forests, alpine lakes and meadows, rugged mountains, and diverse wildlife, Glacier is truly a unique place. I’ve known people who have traveled the world over and still say that it is their favorite outdoor place on earth. With over 700 miles of trails, mountains and lakes, Glacier is an adventurers paradise.

The trail to Arrow Lake begins to climb immediately at a moderate rate and continues to the top of the ridge (2.5 miles). There are only a few view spots where you can see Lake McDonald. At the top of the ridge there is a sign indicating an old fire lookout. The trail to this lookout is old and nearly gone.

The trail moves through a wide saddle and then drops steeply using switchbacks to the Camas Creek Valley. At a bit more than 3 miles the trail forks, going left to Rodger Lake and right to Trout, Arrow, Camas, Evangeline, and Ruger Lakes. Go right. An old campsite sits .25 miles up the trail along Trout Lake. There is a large logjam across Trout Lake that is useful for fishing. Bears cross on this logjam also. One of the first recorded kills of a visitor to the park by a bear happened at this spot. There is no longer a campsite at Trout Lake.

The main backcountry campsite is 3.5 miles up the trail at Arrow Lake. This is a small campground with a good food prep area; bear pole, privy and 2 hitching rails. The trail to the head of the lake requires a crossing of the stream at the foot of the lake. There are stepping stones, but they are slick and some are slightly submerged. The stream is only a foot deep at the crossing and feels good on tired feet.

The trail from Arrow Lake to Camas Lake is well maintained and provides spectacular views. There is a campsite at Camas Lake. The food prep area is very exposed to the wind off the Lake. Lake Evangeline and Ruger Lake are located farther up the valley and require much bushwhacking to reach. There are large damp meadows above Camas lake with a lot of elk and deer sign. There are a lot of exposed slopes in this valley and it is a damp location making it ideal for berry bushes. This also means that this is serious bear country.

For current regulations and directions see Park website:

Glacier National Park National Park Service

P.O. Box 128 West Glacier, MT 59936

(406) 888-7800

(406) 8887808 fax website

Hiking in Arcadia, Greece

It is no coincidence that the name ‘Arcadia’, the name of this region at the heart of the Peloponnese Peninsula of southern Greece, is synonymous with our ideal rural landscape. This lush, mountainous landscape is such a beautiful place you may even feel you have stumbled into one of the myths for which the Peloponnese Peninsula is famed.

The area around ancient Gortys is a lovely place – heaven for hikers. The monks of the monastery of Prodhrómou own the surrounding farmland and they have carved a path up along the Gorge of Loúsios between Áyios Andhréas and the monastery. It takes around 40 minutes to reach the start of the graded path. The walk is along a graded trail which follows the stream. The monastery itself perches precipitously on the cliff edge high above the path and one of the few monks who live here will show you the frescoes here if you show up when the monastery is open – it is closed between 2 and 5pm. Strict dress codes must be adhered to and if you are immodestly dressed then you will be given a blanket like item of clothing to don to enter the monastery. Beyond this monastery, the path continues past two more, one of which, Paleá is a ruin dating from the Tenth Century. The other, Néa, is from the Seventeenth Century. It has been restored and extended in recent years but frescoes dating from 1663 are still intact and can be viewed by applying to the permanent caretaker monk. The path then winds its way beside the river and it takes less than two hours to go through Paleohóri to reach Dhimitsána. If you choose to walk this route you will see why it is so popular with hikers.

The Mainalo mountain range is traversed by the E4 European long-distance path. It starts in Vitina and ascends to the ski lodge on Ostrakina before descending once more to Kardara. This is a very pleasing and varied section of this well-known walk, giving lovely views of this area.

Hiking from the village of Vitina to the village of Stemnitsa is a particular highlight of walking in this area. Vitina is a popular mountain resort with city-dwelling Athenians who come here for a taste of the fresh mountain air. From the central square of the village, take the road leading out of the village to the north-west. The start of the path is well sign-posted with yellow labels. It will lead you first of all down to the river Mylaontas in its scenic gorge and along its banks until you reach a picturesque, deserted watermill and a wooden bridge. After an hour or so’s walk, you head to the spring of Aghios Theodoros, then up onto a beautiful plateau covered with walnut trees the church of the life-giving spring. Passing through Eftakarvelou, you turn right, continuing on until you reach a crossroads. At the crossroads you take a left turn, and follow this path for five kilometers or so until you reach Stemnitsa.

These routes are just a few examples of the many wonderful hiking paths throughout Arcadia. Come to the Peloponnese to discover some of them for yourself.