Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The True Realities of Women’s Hiking Attire During The Victorian Era

The following is a short excerpt from my new book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking:

For women, hiking attire during the Victorian Era was an extremely complicated affair. The subject was frequently discussed and debated throughout the pages of Appalachia during the first decade of the Appalachian Mountain Club. The December 1887 issue of Appalachia ran a lengthy article by Mrs. L. D. Pychowska on the “walking-costume for ladies.” It provided head to toe advice on how women should dress for a hike. This included wearing a grey flannel trouser beneath two skirts. The under skirt, which reached to just below the knee, was also to be made of grey flannel. The outer skirt, however, was to be made of winsey or Kentucky jean, both of which were considered to be strong enough to withstand tears from walking through briers and undergrowth. The outer skirt was also meant to be worn to ankle length. However, if the hiker were to find herself climbing steep terrain she could simply pull out a strong clasp pin and raise the skirt higher, “washwomen fashion,” until the difficult section was completed. “Basquines,” or corsets, were optional apparel according to the author. At the end of the piece the writer assured her readers that her recommendations on female tramping attire would be “sufficiently presentable to enter a hotel or a railroad car” after a long tramp through the woods, “without attracting uncomfortable attention.”


The true realities of wearing a “costume” such as this were not considered or debated in Mrs. Pychowska’s article. Conversely, a passage in an article from the June 1877 issue of Appalachia put an exclamation point on the true dangers women faced as a result of the clothing they were forced to wear while tramping. The author related the story of a guided hike on Mt. Washington during the prior year. While descending Tuckerman Ravine one of the ladies in the group paused momentarily to stand atop a large rock above a 25-foot outcrop. Unbeknownst to the hiker, her tattered dress had become caught on a sharp protrusion on the rock. When she attempted to jump to another large rock the snag violently jolted her back, and left her dangling upside down above the abyss. Fortunately her mountain guide was nearby and was able to pull her to safety before falling.


In one particular instance the burdensome attire that women were expected to wear may have been at least partially responsible for the death of one hiker. On September 13, 1855, 22-year-old Lizzie Bourne of Kennebunk, Maine became the first woman to die while climbing Mt. Washington, and quite possibly the first woman to die while hiking in America. On that late summer day Lizzie had planned to hike to the Tip Top House atop Mount Washington with her uncle George and her cousin Lucy. As a result of early morning rain, however, the trio was forced to postpone the start of their trip. Just after lunch the weather finally cleared and they set out by trekking up the partially completed carriage road. However, as they continued towards the summit of the peak, the threesome encountered another round of bad weather while proceeding along the Glen House Bridle Path, which continued to worsen as they climbed higher. In a letter to the Boston Journal, which was intended to provide “a correct account of the whole affair,” George Bourne attested that as they ascended towards the summit, “Elizabeth began to show signs of weariness, and needed assistance.” As night fell upon the mountain, darkness and fog completely obscured the view of their destination. Fatigue had also crept in on each of the hikers. Not knowing where they were, or how far they were from their destination, the trio made the decision to lie down on the trail and wait out the night. Despite building a wind break from nearby rocks, George was convinced that each of them would perish due to the extreme cold and the violent wind. Indeed, that night, around ten o'clock, Lizzie quietly passed away while lying on the trail. In his letter to the Boston Journal, Bourne stated that it was “evident that Elizabeth did not die from the cold alone, but from some organic affection of the heart or lungs, induced by fatigue and exposure.”

With the arrival of daylight the next morning George and Lucy tragically discovered that they were within sight of the Tip Top House. Had they known that they were that close they could’ve easily made it to safety, and Lizzie likely would’ve survived. After her death tourists and hikers began piling stones on the spot where Ms. Bourne died. A stone monument now stands on that same spot to mark and commemorate her passing.

Did Lizzie’s attire contribute to her death? Perhaps. She wore a heavy skirt, petticoat, pantaloons and stockings. Nicholas Howe, author of Not Without Peril: 150 Years Of Misadventure On The Presidential Range Of New Hampshire, estimates that Lizzie may have worn as much as 45 yards of fabric! When this outfit became soaked in cold rain there’s no doubt this would’ve weighed her down, resulting in more stress on her heart, and certainly would have accelerated the effects of fatigue, exposure and hypothermia.

While Mrs. Pychowska was espousing the benefits of wearing the proper costume to coincide with the mores of the Victorian Era, there was a long debate, at least among female members in the Appalachian Mountain Club, about what women should wear while hiking. During the May 9th meeting chronicled in the June 1877 edition of Appalachia, a Miss Whitman suggested that skirts be designed in a manner so that they “could be shortened to any necessary extent by rolling it up.” A Mrs. Nowell discussed the “disadvantage of ladies on mountain excursions on account of their long skirts, and recommended the use of gymnasium dresses or something similar, as an outside garment for such occasions.” In that same edition of Appalachia, Mrs. W.G. Nowell, one of the founding members of the club, and presumably the same Mrs. Nowell who spoke out during the May 9th meeting, published an article titled, “A Mountain Suit for Women.” In this piece Harriet Nowell once again took issue with the garb women were expected to wear during this era. She also mentioned the discussions she had with other women about the impracticalities and dangers of women’s hiking attire. Apparently they had carefully deliberated over what their alternatives were, and presented one possible solution: “The only thing we could think of was a good flannel bathing suit.” Mrs. Nowell continued by stating that they “could not see why it should be more improper to wear this” suit while hiking, “than it would be along a crowded and fashionable beach.” She went on to make the point that women would be “relieved of the excessive weight of her ordinary dress,“ thus allowing them to carry their own gear. She concluded her piece by declaring that “Our dress has done all the mischief. For years it has kept us away from the glory of the woods and the grandeur of the mountain heights. It is time we should reform.”

An article published on the Tramp and Trail Club of Utica website notes that by the 1920s women had solved the problem of impractical skirts by stuffing them in knapsacks once they had reached the trailhead, and then putting them back on before returning to town. Bold and daring women eschewed skirts altogether and simply wore knickers with long socks from their home. An online exhibit on the Museum of the White Mountains at Plymouth State University website, titled, Taking the Lead: Women and the White Mountains, notes that skirts had virtually disappeared by the mid-1910s, and by the 1930s women were wearing clothes similar to what female hikers wear today, including shorts and halter tops.

Ramble On: A History of Hiking chronicles the history of the first hikers, trails and hiking clubs, as well as the evolution of hiking gear and apparel, including many other stories about the attire both men and women wore during the early years of the sport. You can find the book on Amazon by clicking here.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Monday, November 12, 2018

National Parks Traveler Reviews "Ramble On"

Kurt Repanshek from the National Parks Traveler recently took the time to review my new book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking, which he published on his website yesterday. In case you're unaware, the National Parks Traveler is the leading, editorially independent, nonprofit media organization dedicated to covering national parks and other protected areas. The website is focused on informing the public of environmental, scientific, and other newsworthy developments surrounding, involving, and affecting national parks, other protected areas and their governing bodies.

Up front, Kurt stated it pretty bluntly that: "Hiking might seem rather bland as a topic to build a book around, but just as Terence Young did in 2017 with Heading Out: A History of American Camping, Doran's research brings to light some surprising hiking trivia." He continued later, stating,: "But Ramble On is more than a book of hiking trivia, though it is chock-full of that. Rather, it can be viewed as a vehicle for taking measure of where hiking got its start, why we hike, and what the future of the activity might look like as we crowd the outdoors."

To read the entire review, please click here.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Anne's Travels Take on "Ramble On: A History of Hiking"

Earlier this week Anne Whiting, the author of Anne's Travels, published a review of my new book, Ramble On: A History of Hiking. Ms. Whiting, the author of three state-wide trail guides, is also the author of Anne's Travels, a blog that covers her hiking adventures across America. In fact, the blog is a very rich database chronicling hundreds of her hikes that are sorted by state. This is a great resource if you're heading to a new hiking destination and you want to find out what the best hikes are in order to make the most of your trip.

Anne concluded her review by stating: "Overall, I was very impressed with the amount of information packed into 206 pages.... It’s the perfect gift for someone who loves to hike or who loves American history. Or purchase it for yourself to immerse yourself in the history of hiking in America."

To read the entire review, please click here.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Rare Caribou Sightings Reported in Northwest Montana

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks regional staff have received reports of a rare sight in northwest Montana. Residents have recently documented sightings of woodland caribou near the U.S.-Canada border. The multiple sightings include the potential for a bull and a cow in separate locations.

Caribou, members of the deer family, are native to northwest Montana but have almost completely disappeared from the contiguous United States over the last half century. Woodland caribou herds once stretched from central British Columbia to Idaho, Montana and Washington. The decline in population is largely attributed to high mortality linked to habitat fragmentation, alteration, loss of old growth forest, and subsequent predation impacts. Woodland caribou are now protected in the United States and British Columbia.

Caribou have been known to roam from the Selkirk and Purcell mountain ranges in southern B.C into Montana, Idaho and Washington but the occurrences have become increasingly rare.

Caribou are similar in size to mule deer but have different coloration, large round hooves and unique antlers. Even cow caribou can have visible small antlers.

“There are three weeks left of big-game hunting season in Montana. Hunters are reminded to be sure of their target and beyond,” said Neil Anderson, FWP Region 1 wildlife manager.

After confirming reports of the recent sightings, Montana FWP contacted wildlife biologists in British Columbia and informed them of the sightings. FWP will continue to work closely with partners in British Columbia on the conservation of the species.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Monday, November 5, 2018

Audubon Invites You to Join the 119th Annual Christmas Bird Count

For the 119th year, the National Audubon Society is organizing its annual Christmas Bird Count. Between December 14 and January 5, tens of thousands of bird-loving volunteers will participate in counts across the Western Hemisphere. The data collected by participants continues to contribute to one of only two large existing pools of information notifying ornithologists and conservation biologists about what conservation action is required to protect birds and the places they need.

The Christmas Bird Count is one of the longest-running wildlife censuses in the world. Each individual count takes place in a 15-mile-wide circle and is led by a compiler responsible for organizing volunteers and submitting observations to Audubon. Within each circle, participants tally all birds seen or heard that day—not just the species but total numbers to provide a clear idea of the health of that particular population.

Last year, the 118th Christmas Bird Count included a record-setting 2585 count circles, with 1957 counts in the United States, 463 in Canada and 165 in Latin America, the Caribbean, Bermuda and the Pacific Islands. This was the eighth-straight year of record-breaking counts. In total, 76,987 observers out in the field and watching feeders tallied up 59,242,067 birds representing 2673 different species and 426 identifiable forms—about one-quarter of the world’s known avifauna. Approximately 5 percent of the North American landmass was surveyed by the Christmas Bird Count. Last year included a new species for the entire Christmas Bird Count database: a Mistle Thrush representing the first ever appearance of that species in North America.

Continuing the disturbing finding from last year was the continued decline of the Northern Bobwhite, the only native quail in the eastern United States. This species has essentially disappeared from the Northeast and faces massive declines due to loss of shrubland habitat exacerbated by increased droughts. Other species in decline include American Kestrels, our smallest falcon, and the Loggerhead Shrike, a predatory songbird that impales its prey on thorns. While the reasons for these declines is poorly understood, scientists suspect loss of habitat as well as susceptibility to pesticide use.

Beginning on Christmas Day in 1900, Dr. Frank M. Chapman, founder of Bird-Lore – which evolved into Audubon magazine -- proposed a new holiday tradition that would count birds during the holidays rather than hunt them. Conservation was in its beginning stages in that era, and many observers and scientists were becoming concerned about declining bird populations. So began the Christmas Bird Count. 119 years later, the tradition continues and still manages to bring out the best in people.

The Audubon Christmas Bird Count is a community science project organized by the National Audubon Society. There is no fee to participate and the quarterly report, American Birds, is available online. Counts are open to birders of all skill levels and Audubon’s free Bird Guide app makes it even easier to learn more. For more information and to find a count near you visit www.christmasbirdcount.org.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Expect Smoke Around Yellowstone's Northeast Entrance

Wildland fire staff will burn piles of woody debris near the Northeast Entrance of Yellowstone National Parkon Thursday, November 1. Staff will ignite the piles around 10:00 a.m. Visitors should expect smoke in the area after 10:00 a.m. and through Friday, November 2. Burning the piles is the last step of the Firewise project where staff removed vegetation around buildings in order to reduce the threat of wildfire.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

A View Junkie's Guide: Wyoming Dayhiking

Full disclosure: the author of A View Junkie's Guide: Wyoming Dayhiking contacted me several months ago with regards to using some of my photos for her upcoming book. No compensation was exchanged for use of these photos; however, Anne recently sent me a copy of the book. I voluntarily decided to review it here.

A View Junkie's Guide: Wyoming Dayhiking takes hikers to some of the best scenery Wyoming has to offer, including Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks, as well as the Black Hills, Snowy Range, Wind River, Gros Venture and Absaroka mountains. This is the third installment in a series of hiking guides by author Anne Whiting, who has also published trail guides for Colorado and Washington state. Anne’s newest edition covers 48 individual trails, and over 175 hike options. The book is geared towards novice, moderate and adventurous hikers who enjoy spectacular views. As you might expect from the title of the book, Anne seeks out trails that offer amazing scenery. As she points out in her Introduction, many trail guides tend to spend an inordinate amount of time discussing the flora, fauna, geology and local history of the trails they cover. Not in this book. Anne is focused on the views hikers will see along each of the routes she covers in her book.

Readers will appreciate the comprehensive trail directory near the beginning of the book, which is sorted by the regions covered in the state. Within each national park or mountain range are the main trails, with the various options hikers can take depending on mileage or presence of loop options. Each hike in this directory contains key data points, such as trail length, total elevation gain, as well as Anne’s ranking with regards to difficulty level, solitude and of course, the overall view rating. There’s also a page number listed next to each hike which tells the reader where to turn for detailed information on each hike. Each hike description includes directions, a trail map, key GPS coordinates, as well as photos of the scenery hikers will enjoy along the route. Anne also provides key information on trail conditions that could impact hikers. For example, in many areas of Wyoming hikers will be traveling through bear country. Anne lets readers know about certain trails that pass through prime bear habitat. In other places she warns about sections of trail where snow that can linger well into the summer. As a history enthusiast, I really enjoyed the trail trivia section provided near the end of each hike description.

As already mentioned, A View Junkie's Guide: Wyoming Dayhiking includes hikes for all levels of experience: from very short strolls, to strenuous all-day hikes. A handful of hikes covered in the book would actually be more conducive as backpacking trips, though they could be done in one-day for super-fit hikers. A prime example of this is the spectacular 19.6-mile Cascade Canyon – Paintbrush Canyon Loop in Grand Teton National Park. Another example is the 20-mile Cirque of Towers hike in the Wind River Range, a destination that’s been on my bucket list since reading about it in Backpacker Magazine many, many moons ago.

If your only intention is to visit Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks, this book will serve you quite well, as it covers most of the best hikes in these parks, as well as several other options in the national forests that border the two parks. These hikes will offer you much more solitude if you’re visiting these popular parks during the peak tourist season. With the exception of the Bighorn Mountains in north-central Wyoming, the book covers the premier hikes in each of the major mountain ranges in the state. If you’ve only visited Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks in the past, this book will provide the inspiration to get out and explore the rest of this truly beautiful state. I can say with certainty that Anne’s book has expanded my bucket list of hikes to include the Highline Trail in the Wind River Range, as well as the Medicine Bow Peak Loop in the Snowy Range of southeast Wyoming.

For more information and to purchase the book on Amazon, please click here.



Jeff
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikingintheSmokys.com
Ramble On: A History of Hiking