It’s almost time for the annual gathering of long distance trail aficionados, ALDHA-West. September 26-28, the Mountaineers Meany Lodge near Stampede Pass, Washington will be filled with stories, triple crown awards, and lots of laughter. A few spots are still open for the weekend (open online until Thursday, September 18 at midnight, after that it will be walk-up first come/first served until full - 5-10 spots), so register now!
“The Gathering is the place to meet the who's who of long distance hiking,” said Whitney “Allgood” LaRuffa, ALDHA-West President. “This annual event is a great way to reconnect with old trail friends, meet new ones, learn about new trails, and have fun with long distance hikers from near and far.
Not to be confused with ALDHA (Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association), a group of Appalachian Trail enthuiasts, ALDHA-West is a membership organization formed, quite simply, around those interested in the pursuit of all aspects of long distance hiking. From section hikers to thru-hikers to the likes of Cam “Swami” Honan who last year gave a riviting talk of his 12 long walks (a 15,000 mile journey in 18 months), the group loves backpacking in all forms.
Fastpacking is catching on. The freedom of traveling long distances with minimal pack weight over multiple days has influenced everything from ultrarunning and alpine ascents to long distance backpacking. With technological advances in ultralight gear, like the new Six Moon Designs Flight pack series, fastpackers can increasingly hit the trails with more comfort, and can focus on making miles with ease and without compromising safety.
The term Fastpacking was first used by Jim Knight in his 1988 100 mile, 38 hour traverse of the Wind River Range. Knight reported in an UltraRunning Magazine article, “We were wilderness running. Power hiking. Kind of backpacking, but much faster. More fluid. Neat. Almost surgical. Get in. Get out. I call it fastpacking.”
A cross between backpacking and mountain running, fastpacking has increasingly been featured in the media in the form of speed records, and three distinct styles have emerged: supported, self-supported, and unsupported.
We caught up with Brandon “B-Rad” Flanagan for Six Moon Design’s inaugural 10 Questions post. Brandon has been using the Flight 30 on his adventures around Central Oregon, and it sounds like he just might take it with him on the CDT next year.
1) How did you get started backpacking?
I was lucky to grow up in Central Oregon with miles of forest out my back door. I'd load up the old external frame pack, strap on the cotton sleeping bag and grub down on a few cans of chili. Those were the days.
2) What is your favorite piece of gear?
I love my Black diamond trekking poles. Not only do they keep me from falling on my face but they are great for poking hiking partners, Drawing in the dirt and clearing spider webs from the trail.
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