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Steens Mountain Backpacking Guide – Southeastern Oregon
thefrugalhiker.com

As you head toward the southeast corner of Oregon a panorama of raw wilderness stretches across the horizon, beckoning solitude seekers. The Steens Mountain monolith runs nearly 60 miles from northeast to southwest and 18 miles across, with its summit sitting at nearly 9,733 feet. What makes the Steens so special and worthy of the long drive are the massive and mesmerizing U-shaped gorges that run almost a half-mile deep on the western side of the Steens. On the east side, you're treated to views of a near vertical 5,500 foot drop to the expansive Alvord Desert, which offers 30 miles of alkaline playa.
The Steens Mountain Loop Road traverses the west side of the range for 52 miles through some of the best scenery in the region. It offers views of Fish Lake, The Kiger Gorge, the Steens Mountain Summit, and offers access to highland trails. Hiking options cover the gamut from high desert washes to subalpine meadows to plush green canyons. In this guide, we’ll help you plan your nex..

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How a Mountain Guide Makes It Work on $35,000 a Year
thefrugalhiker.com

Name: Mike Coyle
Occupation: Mountain guide and outdoor educator
Age: 30
Location: Split between the Cascades and the Front Range
Salary: $35,000

What are your monthly expenses? Last year, I only paid two months of rent at $400 per month. This year, I haven’t paid any rent because I was in Argentina from December 1 through March 1, staying in employee housing while guiding on Aconcagua for Alpine Ascents International. When I came back, I stayed at employee housing while I was working for Colorado Mountain School in Estes Park, Colorado. Other than that, I was camping in Moab or staying with friends or my girlfriend. When I’m moving around so much, it doesn’t make sense to sign a lease. I make it work between the truck—I drive a 2004 Toyota Tacoma and in a pinch can sleep in the back—and friend’s houses. Each month, I pay $120 in student loans, $70 for car insurance, $10 for Netflix, $15 for my Audible subscription, and $100 for my phone bill. I don’t pay for internet, utilities, or h..

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The Mountains Weren’t Enough for Marine Dan Sidles
thefrugalhiker.com

Dan Sidles grew up in northern Iowa, where the cornfields stretch to the horizon without a blip of elevation and the roads run bullet straight for miles through towns like Pocahontas (“the Princess City”) and Mallard (“We’re friendly ducks”).

He detasseled corn in those fields in the summers and hauled beer kegs out there with friends. He wakeboarded on Five Island Lake and played football for the Emmetsburg E-Hawks, where he was a standout on offense and defense. After a directionless year in community college, he left Iowa for the Marine Corps in 2001.

His older sister still lives in the area, and I stopped by her house to pick him up. “I have Daniel ready for you,” Amy Gilderhus said and handed me a small Folgers coffee container with strips of duct tape securing the plastic lid. The weight surprised me, heavier than I had imagined. An urn decorated with an American flag held the rest of his ashes; it sat on a living room shelf next to a picture of Sidles and a large frame that di..

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A New, Majestic High Route Through Yosemite
thefrugalhiker.com

Last month, I had two goals for a nine-day backpacking trip in Yosemite National Park. First, to simply enjoy what is likely to be my only solo trip in 2018. This year I will spend about 55 nights out, but the bulk of them will be on guided and private group trips that come with responsibilities and compromises that solo trips do not.

Upper Spiller Canyon, as seen from below Twin Peaks Pass, which probably won’t be part of the recommended route unless you adore loose scree. (Andrew Skurka)

And second, to scout the Yosemite High Route. I went in open-minded, uncertain if it would even be merited by the topography and terrain. But I suspected it was and hoped I would finish with a sense for exactly where it should go (and not go) and how it could be best completed as a thru-hike and in sections.

A bee on Sierra butterweed above Grace Meadow in Falls Creek. (Andrew Skurka)

I hiked the Pacific Crest Trail through Yosemite in 2006 and 2007, on the Sierra High Route in 2008, and on the J..

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24 Hours in Utah with Sasha DiGiulian
thefrugalhiker.com

Welcome to 10 a.m. on a Tuesday, a behind-the-scenes mini-series that takes a look at an “average” weekday with professional climber Sasha DiGiulian. In this first episode, she links up with iconic Utah climbers Randy Leavitt and Jorge Vissar to make an impromptu visit to the Hurricave in the middle of a road trip.

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Dusk Patrol Is the New Dawn Patrol
thefrugalhiker.com

Waking up for a pre-work dawn patrol mission can be a real struggle. However, power couple Brendan Leonard and Hilary Oliver have cracked the code for non-morning people by pioneering a new trend they call “dusk patrol.” Watch to see how Brendan and Hilary beat the crowds without sacrificing the morning snooze.

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Social Media Is Making the Outdoors More Dangerous
thefrugalhiker.com

We all know that one-upmanship on social media is stupid and dangerous. But now we may have stats to prove it. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Search and Rescue team reports that its missions have increased by 38 percent over the last five years—something they attribute to people sharing photos and videos of their dangerous activities online.

That department ran 681 SAR missions in 2017, its highest number ever, up from 491 in 2013. L.A. County is home to numerous outdoor hotspots, from beaches to 50-foot waterfalls to slot canyons to 10,000-foot mountains. The cops attribute some of the increase in SAR work to social media and other online tools that reveal previously little-known spots to the masses. They also blame people who try to mimic dangerous stunts they see online or to impress their followers with new ones.

“People will post videos of themselves jumping off of Hermit Falls or the Malibu rock pool, and they post it in the springtime when there’s a decent amoun..

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Burnout
thefrugalhiker.com

Maybe you saw the fire coming, maybe you didn’t. Maybe you were ready for it, maybe you weren’t. Maybe you did everything right. Maybe not. Maybe you just lost everything. Maybe that’s not even the worst of it. For this final episode of our four-part series investigating American wildfires, we asked fiction writer Joseph Jordan to imagine the experience of someone whose home has been destroyed by flames. He came up with a haunting story that captures our modern relationship with wildfire, in which a single catastrophic blaze is neither the start or end of anyone's troubles.

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Yellowstone Grizzlies Return to the Endangered List
thefrugalhiker.com

Twenty-three grizzly bears have been permanently spared from a trophy hunt that was scheduled to begin in the greater Yellowstone area on September 1, thanks to a U.S. District Court ruling that found in favor of conservation groups and tribes on Tuesday. But the bigger triumph for grizzly advocates is that the entire population of Yellowstone’s grizzly bears—between 700 and 1,000 individuals—will once again receive federal protections under the Endangered Species Act.

Judge Dana Christensen ruled that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service acted “arbitrarily and capriciously,” and ultimately exceeded its legal authority, when it delisted the Yellowstone grizzly last year. “By delisting the Greater Yellowstone grizzly without analyzing how delisting would affect the remaining members of the lower-48 grizzly designation the USFWS failed to consider how reduced protections in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem would impact the other grizzly populations,” he wrote in the 48-page ruli..

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