Sunday, June 6, 2010

Eddie vs. BACKPACKER nation!

So here’s my newest plan. The blog post before this one was my state-by-state all star list. I took a few boring days at work and compiled a list of what I thought would be great hikes, bikes, or paddles, in each of the 50 states, one for each state. Before I go any further, I have to say that there was no exact scientific formula employed here. In some states, I purposefully went away from premier areas, and opted for lesser known locations. For example, the obvious choice for the state of Tennessee would be one of the many excellent trails located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Instead, I listed a trail located in a pocket wilderness. I had already highlighted the Smokies for my North Carolina hike, and, as great as the park is, didn’t want to double-dip. And of course, in some states, I did in fact try to highlight key areas. In California, it has to be Yosemite, just as it has to be Yellowstone for Wyoming, and the Sawtooths for Idaho. I used for 90% of my research, backing up my decisions with other various online sources and hiker reviews. A majority of the Midwest states didn’t have much to offer on, so I had to search long and wide for lesser known internet sources. Some of those states surprised me. I figured surely that Oklahoma would have a decent showing, but indeed they didn’t. An eye-catching activity in Kansas and Nebraska was almost non-existent. None the less, after about a week the list was finished, and all-in-all I felt pretty satisfied with the results.

And then it hit me! I remembered a little over a year ago getting an issue of BACKPACKER Magazine that highlighted a state by state list of favorite hikes, as voted on by subscribers. I had to do some digging to find the old issue, but alas there it was. Now, the way this worked was, BACKPACKER posted online polls for its readers to vote for what they considered to be the best hike in each state. You can tell their results were completely unedited and printed “as-is”. Rhode Island’s hike was a .13 mile walk up a gravel road to the state’s high point, which rises to a not-so-jaw-dropping 812 feet. And better yet, Delaware’s insert in the magazine simply reads “sorry Delaware, your state’s best hike is in Virginia.” WHAT!? Virginia and Delaware don’t even share a border! If anything, I certainly appreciated the editor’s attempt to print a raw list of favorite state hikes, but in some cases, I was not impressed.

Now, when I first got back in touch with this issue of BACKPACKER, I was originally planning to scrap my list, and start checking of hikes from theirs. But after being, for lack of a better word, un-flattered by their results, I decided to up the ante! I was going to go head to head with BACKPACKER nation! I decided to put the lists side by side, try to hike all 100 trails (oh wait, 99. Sorry Delaware), and see who comes out on top. Let’s see who can pick a better trail. I understand that my critics out there will say that, right out of the gates, my system is flawed. “Surely you will pick your hike over the BACKPACKER readers’! You know the kinds of hikes you like. Not to mention you will be more likely to rate the hike from your list higher for the sake of preserving your own credibility.” In the words of Lee Corso, “Not so fast, my friend!” My response to these two comments would this: 1. On my list, I have every kind of hike imaginable; from peaks, to valleys, to short day hikes to over-nighters. I also added a handful of bicycling and paddling trips into the mix! Anyone that hikes with me, or reads the blog, knows that I love a good waterfall hike, but I know when a good summit or vista hike has beaten out a waterfall hike. 2. I’m not interested in making my list beat out the BACKPACKER nation list. I am really just using this as a neat excuse to get Laura to let me do more hiking! I have nothing invested in my list. Whichever list loses in this friendly competition, one thing is for sure, I STILL WIN!
Let the games begin.