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Hiking during your travels
With information about the Sierra Club

When planning a trip, don't forget to include some hiking.

Even a short walk freshens the mind and aids your digestion after spending so much time sitting in cars, planes, or trains.

The new Lonely Planet Hiking the USA gives excellent advice and itineraries for longer hikes.

These pages, too, describe walks in several cities and parks.

In addition, Dr. Voyageur strongly suggests joining organized groups for day or overnight hikes. These are great ways to meet people and learn more about the places you visit.

One such group is the Sierra Club.

The Sierra Club site features multi-day hikes of national and international interest, which often must be booked weeks or months in advance.

However, its site also gives contact numbers of local chapters and links to some of these for information about day hikes that often do not need to be booked in advance.

These types of short group hikes are a great way to meet Americans and Canadians and to experience some wonderful scenery.

The Los Angeles chapter, for example, offers daily hikes to nonmembers. You visit local mountains, beach parks, and other scenic areas. See its calendar.

Because chapter members organise "car pools" to trail heads, you don't even have to have a car.

Local Sierra Club chapters include San Francisco, San Diego, Portland, Seattle, Victoria, Vancouver, BC, Toronto, Tucson, Denver, Honolulu, New York City, Washington, DC, and others.

The club is not very centralized, so you may be passed through several volunteers and telephone numbers before you reach the volunteer in charge of the day hike you wish.

Sierra Club membership, which may or may not be needed for your day hike, is inexpensive, with discounts for students, seniors, and those with limited incomes.

Only a nominal fee (sometimes just a dollar or two) is charged for the organization of each hike.

Currently, there's a new membership special. Join Sierra Club for $15 and receive a FREE expedition backpack.

Pay attention to the difficulty ratings of the hikes.

Except for Dr. Voyageur, Sierra members are a fit lot—a very fit lot—and a strenuous rating is beyond the current ability of many of us.

Bring along plenty of water, a snack, comfortable walking shoes (boots, if suggested by the club), insect repellent (if needed), sun screen, and a hat.

The Sierra Club, by the way, has been responsible for preserving some of North America's most scenic areas, including its leadership of a movement to defeat a plan to dam a large portion of the Grand Canyon years ago.

Its founder helped save Yosemite National Park as a national treasure, and club members fought to create Redwood National Park. Moreover, a key reason California has such an extensive and well cared for state park system is that the Sierra Club has been so vocal there.

As travellers, we are morally obligated to tread lightly on this planet, and where possible to leave it in better condition than we found it.

Hopefully, by visiting the most scenic areas of Canada and the U.S., you will more than ever want to preserve them.

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