Backpacker to give advice for hiking adventures

IVOR HUGHES, SHOWN hiking Mt. Abraham right here in Addison County, will give a primer on hiking during a talk at Ilslely Library next Thursday, Jan. 16.

MIDDLEBURY — What if you were walking along a trail and thought for a just a moment you could hear voices from the past? Voices of people shouting, bantering and cursing as they struggled under their heavy loads. They were people who were following their dreams, they believed that they would become rich beyond belief. It was they who created the trail. 
You are backpacking one of the most historic trails in Alaska and the Yukon, called the “Chilkoot Trail,” following in the footsteps of the 1890s gold rush miners who made their way for hundreds of miles of uncharted territory to seek their fortune in Dawson City. You are experiencing history, breathtaking scenery, the smell of the spruce trees, solitude, nature, sleeping under the stars, challenging climbs and hearty food that seems to taste better when cooked outdoors. 
Ivor Hughes has often been asked why he would carry that load on his back — how can that be enjoyable? 
“Yes I do notice the load, but it’s more about allowing me to reach places and have experiences that otherwise I would never be able to have,” said the Monkton resident and member of the Green Mountain Club (GMC). “You can totally disconnect from the hubbub of everyday life, you become a self-contained unit, a traveler that can go anywhere, all your needs are in your pack. You can enjoy the solitude or the camaraderie of a group of friends or family. 
“With no distractions you are able to appreciate the surrounding countryside, the wildlife and the forest, experience grand vistas — you become aware that there really are thousands of stars,” Hughes continued. “You can relax, you do not have to rush home.” 
To encourage folks to explore the outdoors and be adventurous, Hughes will deliver the talk “Introduction to Backpacking” at the Ilsley Library in Middlebury on Thursday, Jan. 16, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. 
There are an unlimited number of hiking trails to explore locally, countrywide or worldwide, and what better way to experience them than to put a pack on your back spend an overnight or a few days or longer to enjoy the many opportunities that are available to us? As a member of the GMC and an ardent hiker, Hughes encourages people — and especially young families — to come out and enjoy the outdoors. Introducing youths to backpacking can be life changing for them, leading to self confidence and self sufficiency, and teach them team spirit and how to look out for each other. 
The GMC has a range of programs and hikes starting with the “Young Adventures Club” and a range of hikes throughout the year from easy to challenging that are open to all. Many of these hikes are listed in the Addison Independent calendar. 
Have you always wanted to go backpacking or need a refresher? The Jan. 16 talk presents your chance to get the primer you need to get out there and hit the trails. 
“While it might seem romantic to just take off and wander the trails there is a more serious side, and that is being prepared,” Hughes said. “The wrong boots or ill-fitting backpack, forgotten items or getting lost, can turn a trip into a nightmare. I will help you understand the choice of equipment, food and cooking, fitness, planning and hike selection, navigating, first aid and kit list.” 
Ivor Hughes is an experienced hiker and backpacker who enjoys the local trails as well as further afield. He has hiked the Southwestern United States in the Grand Canyon, Canyonlands and the Rocky Mountains. He has also hiked extensively in Europe having just completed the Tour du Mt. Blanc this summer, and previously hiked in Iceland and down in Patagonia, South America. 

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