The backcountry is full of great stories, and we’re proud to bring you this collection of some of our favorites. From China’s burgeoning hiking culture to a spooky Ozarks mystery, these stories exemplify the power of quality writing and the transformative experience of the outdoors.
Table of Contents:
Dogs of War
Another dead Denali wolf. A battle for the soul of wild Alaska. Our reporter visits America’s most iconic wilderness for the inside story of a park under siege.
By Tracy Ross
The People’s Hiking Revolution
As prosperity spreads across China, so does a passion for the outdoors. But can millions of new trekkers save Asia’s vast wilderness from the march of development? Welcome to the world’s next hiking frontier.
By Craig Simon
Closer Than You Think
Sometimes a passport can stand in the way of a real adventure. Our man praises the local micro-expedition.
By Mark Jenkins
Happy coincidence for wildlife-loving paddlers: Canoes and woodland caribou converge like nowhere else on Earth in Ontario’s Slate Islands.
By Gustave Axelson
Thunder on the Mountain
Years after hurricane-force winds and rain ravaged hundreds of miles of trail in Mt. Rainier National Park, the true damage is finally becoming clear. And what it’s telling scientists is alarming: Bigger, more frequent—and more destructive—storms may be coming.
By Michael Lanza
Are You Smarter Than a Boy Scout?
For generations, Scoutmasters have trained future outdoorsmen in wilderness skills. But times have changed. Do the troops still rule when it comes to core trail tests? A team of three average BACKPACKER readers face off with three Scouts to find out.
By Jim Gorman
There’s a Bomb in My Backpack
The U.S.-Canada border is long, wild, and unprotected—a 5,525-mile entry point for would-be terrorists. Just how easy would it be to smuggle a pound of anthrax across? An anonymous hiker-patriot traveled north to find out—and returned with this exclusive report from a frontier wilderness mere hours from downtown Seattle.
The Unlikeliest Mountaineer
When you grow up on a dollar a day in poverty-wracked, HIV-devastated Swaziland, you don’t dream of climbing the Seven Summits. Fortunately, no one informed Sibu Vilane of that fact. The former goatherd has only one peak left to go: Denali.
By Steve Howe
Could This Dog Save Your Life?
When hikers go missing in Yosemite, rangers call on a highly trained team—of dogs. Members of the park’s new K-9 rescue squad rappel from helicopters and search miles of dangerous backcountry terrain. Their pay? Kibbles and a scratch behind the ear. Meet Gus, Ranger, and the other four-footed heroes that just might save your life.
By Kristin Bjornsen
The Lost Boy of the Ozarks
Eight decades after a boy disappeared in the Missouri woods, another mysteriously vanished. Now, thirty years later, a reporter breaks his silence about the connection between the two chilling cases—and what really happened in that forest.
By Neville Franks