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Getting the flavor of . . . The other Appalachian Trail and Kayaking in the northern wilderness

The wildest stretch of southern Appalachia is the 290-mile-long ribbon of dirt known as the Benton MacKaye Trail, said Chris Dixon in The New York Times. Named after the Harvard-educated outdoorsman who founded the original Appalachian Trail

The other Appalachian TrailThe wildest stretch of southern Appalachia is the 290-mile-long ribbon of dirt known as the Benton MacKaye Trail, said Chris Dixon in The New York Times. Named after the Harvard-educated outdoorsman who founded the original Appalachian Trail—that “storied 2,174-mile-long Maine-to-Georgia hiking path”—the trail crosses through the bear- and boar-filled mountains and valleys of Tennessee and North Carolina. Planning for the route began in 1975. Fourteen years later, the first 81-mile segment opened, running from Springer Mountain in northern Georgia to the Tennessee state line. Hikers pass through mountains thick with blackberries and white mountain laurel. Habitat studies long delayed the opening of the next segment, which now traverses the southern border of the half-million-acre Great Smoky Mountains National Park. One of Benton MacKaye’s “most breathtaking spots”—a flowercovered grassland crowning an Appalachian peak at 5,000 feet—is at Whigg Meadows, in Tennessee. Contact: Bmta.org

Kayaking in the northern wildernessThe Great Bear Rainforest on the coast of mainland British Columbia “may be the largest tract of contiguous temperate rain forest left in the world,” said Bonnie Tsui in National Geographic Adventure. Running from Vancouver Island to the Alaska panhandle, this 15.8-million-acre forest is filled with countless islands, crystal-clear fjords, 5,000-foot mountain peaks, and “thousands of salmon streams.” Great Bear presents unique challenges to the wilderness kayaker because distances between islands are often five miles or more, the weather is unpredictable, and sandy beaches for camping are scarce. On our first day out, we were joined by two humpback whales that turned “the mirrored waters into a fountain of whale spume.” Later we hitched a ride aboard a research ship to Hartley Bay and set up camp at the mouth of an inlet. The next morning, we paddled 10 miles north to Princess Royal Island. Again we had company—this time humpbacks, loons, and cormorants. Contact: Raincoast.org

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