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The Up For Anything Shirt I have been meaning to write a gear review about my favorite shirt for a long time because my ExOfficio Reef Runner™ Shirt absolutely deserves a shout out. It has stood up to everything I've thrown at it; not only has it stood up to the test, but it's the only shirt that I feel like I could literally wear anywhere and in any situation. This shirt has been with me while guiding trips around the world, journeying across the Sahara, backpacking through our National Parks, downhill mountain biking in Canada, salsa dancing in Madrid's discotecas and even doing a "Man Test" in Montana. On this adventure I took only my ExOfficio shirt, a pair of pants and a furry Montana hat and headed out into the backcountry to see if I could survive with nothing else. I've even worn this shirt going out on first dates! If that doesn't show faith in a product,...

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Kicks for your next adventure When I’m not out on a mountaineering adventure, I prefer to wear a lighter and more comfortable shoe for all of my outdoor activities. It can be difficult to find lightweight footwear that meets the performance demand of the great outdoors, but the Keen Targhee II WP Hiking Shoe fits the bill. Whether you are casually strolling around town or out on a hiking adventure, these shoes will keep your feet dry, safe and comfortable. My favorite feature on these shoes is the waterproofing. When I’m day hiking or backpacking, keeping my feet dry is a must. I wore these Keens on a 5-day trek in Torres del Paine and my feet stayed dry as I tromped across streams, through knee-deep mud and across areas with snow pack. Comfort is also important in the outdoors. These shoes have excellent cushioning with a high arch (removable footbed for those who prefer...

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Dream Backpack for Peru and Patagonia A call to all you women (and men) hikers out there! I have always loved hiking and backpacking but more recently I have been preparing for my up-coming trip to Peru and, most importantly, the Inka Trail Trek that I will be doing as well as the hiking I intend to do around the Colca Canyon. With this in mind, I know that a lot of our travelers will be heading out soon for similar treks and I wanted to share my insight on my favorite pack that I can’t leave home without. I use the REI Venus 70 pack. I bought it back in 2010 and have used it while doing long trips around the northeastern jungle of Argentina, through Chilean Patagonia (Torres del Paine) and here in the Pacific Northwest Cascades while snowshoeing and doing longer summer backpacking trips. Packs made for women (especially on the smaller side)...

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How to Tip on the Inca Trail Trek Head porters, chefs, toilet porters and guides - oh my! The Inca Trail trek, like any supported backcountry trip, has a large cast of characters who ensure that you as a trekker are encouraged, enriched, well-fed and safe throughout your journey. These individuals work very hard, literally engaging in 'back breaking' labor for a seemingly puny salary by our standards, and they rely on tips from trekkers as a portion of their compensation. The polite thing to say is that 'gratuities are at your discretion,' but in reality if you are trekking the Inca Trail in Peru, you should budget porter, guide and support staff tips into the overall cost of your trip. Here are my recommendations for 'how-much' and 'how-to' when it comes to divvying up tips on the Inca Trail.  How Much: This varies greatly based on the number of people in your trekking group, but at a...

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Be Moved by the Mountains Being surrounded by raw natural beauty stirs the soul in ways that we as humans can feel and recognize but perhaps not accurately describe. Recent Wildland traveler Steve Fors, who embarked on our Machu Picchu Mountain Lodges Trek in March, very eloquently summed up his experience trekking through the Cordillera Vilcabamba.  “Our trekking guides Manolo and Darwin were off-the-chart fabulous in every way. My favorite moments for the trip were as follows; we went out on the upstairs deck at Salkantay Lodge, shut off all nearby lights and saw the most spectacular stars I have ever seen. While the sky above us was clear, there were thunderstorms nearby. The valley below lit up several times. Then lightning lit up Mt. Salkantay and its neighbors several times. When we hiked over Salkantany Pass, the mountain was obscured by clouds and fog. The next morning we awakened to clear sky, the first rays...
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