Late summer of 2018, Master Grand Canyon Explorer Rich Rudow came to Maine and got his first taste of the “Green Tunnel” – a common term of endearment Thru Hikers use to describe the Appalachian Trail. Along with Hyperlite Mountain Gear Founder Mike St. Pierre and his girlfriend Helene Dicesare, Rudow got a solid sampling of the lush forests, panoramic views above tree line, roots, rocks, and moisture in every form.
Distance: 132.23 Miles (212.8 km)
Duration: 8 - 14 days
Access: Pisac, Peru - Cachora, Peru
While Machu Picchu is the focal point of almost all tourism in Peru, there are thousands of sites and interest points which are missed. If you have designs on visiting this area but want to do it with fewer groups, rushing, and hubbub, I suggest taking your time and walking the Sacred Valley. Salt pans, Inca fortresses, and the Choqueqirao ruins are right there at your feet. Another advantage of this journey is it can be done with very little pack weight.
Distance: 90 Miles (145 Km)
Duration: 5 - 8 days
Access: El Alto, La Paz - Sorata, Peru
This impressive range rears north of La Paz. Peaks above 20,000 ft. and passes at over 16,000 ft, tropical glaciers, snaking milky rivers, llamas, and locals, this trail is a dream for the seasoned mountain hiker and international traveler. There are multiple options for hiking the Cordillera Real which range from three to 14 days. The problem with this range is not a lack of trails, but perhaps too many to choose from. Some sections are almost exclusively used by herdsmen, and their animals leave many tracks.
What a South Westerner learned on a week-long Appalachian Trail section hike from Rangeley to Caratunk, Maine.
Roots. Millions, and millions of roots. Within 100 yards of leaving the trailhead at the Highway 4 crossing of the Appalachian Trail (AT) outside of Rangeley, Maine, I realized that this backpacking trip was going to be far different than the hundreds of trips I had done in the southwest desert. For one, I had never hiked on a trail covered in slippery roots projecting randomly across and along the trail waiting to take down the unaware. The forest canopy supported by those roots was a magical jungle that blotted out the sun creating more humidity than I had ever experienced.
Distance: 101 Miles (162.5 km)
Duration: 7 - 11 Days
Access: Villa O'Higgins-Cochrane, Chile
Season: December - February
This ‘Ruta Patrimonial’ of Chile is already incorporated into the far wider Greater Patagonian Trail. It's generally agreed that the “Ruta de Los Pioneros” is one of the most astounding sections of that region, and it sees very few hikers each year. With intertwining and disappearing trails that cross through river fed glaciers and wind past the glaciers themselves, and a portion that even pops into a corner of Argentina, this remote and austere trail is only recommended for highly experienced trekkers. Ample GPS experience is a must, and those who choose to embark on this trip must be comfortable with carrying up to nine days of food.
Photos by Jessica Kelley
One of three recipients of the Kyle Dempster Solo Adventure Award, Jessica Kelley followed a circuitous broken-ankle led journey through a variety of modes of wilderness travel to finally hatch her own 1,300-mile bike and packraft trip in Alaska.