Backpacker

Troubleshoot Your Weekends

01 I’M NOT ACCLIMATIZED.

Maybe your body isn't used to high altitude, or maybe there’s still a lot of snow clogging up the high passes. Either way, set your GPS for a rewarding trip that never tops 8,000 feet. By Ryan Wichelns

TRIP FIX

BOULDER MAIL TRAIL

GRAND STAIRCASE-ESCALANTE NATIONAL MONUMENT, UT

When you can’t go high, go low. Once a 19th-century mail route between Boulder and Escalante, the 15.5-mile Mail Trail hops across a series of juniper-covered, 6,700-foot plateaus in the desert, dips into a series of slickrock canyons, ponderosa forests, and spring-fed creeks—and it comes into season when the high country is still snowed in. From Boulder, drop into the first of those canyons, slickrock-lined Sand Creek near mile 2.9. Cross the cedar-covered plateau to the telephone wire installed in the early 1900s and follow it to the rim of Death Hollow, which supposedly gets its name from the unfortunate fate of a mail delivery mule. Head downstream and consider walking in the typically shallow water to avoid the poison ivy prevalent in certain spots before climbing back out after mile 6.9. Camp in Mamie Canyon before mile 9 and make a side trip .8 mile southeast of camp to walk beneath a natural bridge and into a stone amphitheater. The next day, ascend out of Mamie and continue across Antone Flat to Escalante at mile 15.5.

TRAILHEAD Boulder Airstrip (37.8839, -111.4645) SHUTTLE 37.7679, -111.5780 ROAD 2WD SEASON September to May PERMITS Required; pick up at the Anasazi State Park Museum in Boulder or the Escalante Interagency Visitor Center in Escalante; no reservations necessary. CONTACT bit.do/BoulderMailTrail

ALSO TRY

CLINGMANS DOME-DEEP CREEK LOOP

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN/NC

Reach the park’s high point—still only 6,643 feet—on a three-night, 35.4-mile loop to the summit. Take the Noland Divide Trail to camp at Bald Creek (mile 8.6), the Appalachian Trail to Mt. Collins Shelter (mile 18.9), and link up the AT, Fork Ridge, and Deep Creek Trails to camp at Bryson Place (mile 28.7). To exit, follow Deep Creek itself to the trailhead. INFO nps.gov/grsm

02 THE FORECAST IS APPALLING.

You can’t change the weather—or predict it when you plan your trip—but that doesn’t mean you have to choose between sleeping in a wet tent and staying home.

Before you go Check that your seams and fly are in good condition. Ensure guylines are attached and at least 10 feet long.

Site right Avoid places where water might run or pool, and be wary of lone trees, exposed areas, or other lightning magnets.

Use natural shelter Pitch your tent under tree cover and then move it into the site you selected.

Pitch perfectly No tree cover? Cinch the hood on your shell then move purposefully and efficiently to set up your shelter without having to make too many adjustments. Tension all guylines so water can't pool on top of your fly.

• Using a bandana or pack towel, sponge the moisture off your tent

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