For the first in our series of interviews with famous internet hikers and adventurers, we got to chat a bit with Rick McCharles. A passionate and accomplished hiker, Rick runs a blog where he and his team post stories of their most impressive treks. We’re not going to go insist with the info since Mr. McCharles was generous enough to provide a short summary of himself and what he does. Enjoy!
So I’m not going to ask you what your story is. But I will ask you: what do you think people who are interested in you would be most fascinated to hear first?
Rick McCharles edits the BestHike.com website, an index of the best hikes, treks, and tramps in the world. He’s traveled to over 80 nations so far. He calls it research. It’s an ideal place for hikers planning their next major trek. The Laugavegur Trail in Iceland, for example.
It’s probably safe to assume you weren’t born ready for this. What’s the single most important piece of advice you got that put you on the right path to success?
I didn’t start hiking seriously until age-40. My backpack was seriously overweight on my first major trip. It took a number of years to settle upon the right gear.
Anyone new to overnight hiking should first go out with a guide or some experienced friends.
How do you normally go about your trips? Do you prefer traveling alone, with one other person, or as an adventuring party?
I like hiking alone. And I like hiking with others.
Most often I start at the trailhead on my own and join up with others on the same trail. We meet and get to know each other at popular campsites.
What’s the most common thought you go to for motivation when you’re feeling particularly down during a difficult trail, workout, or sports session?
For the most part, I only listen to headphones in the tent. But if feeling particularly fatigued I will put them on while hiking as a pick-me-up.
Here’s a tough one: give us an UNcommon reason why people should visit your favorite place!
There are no uncommon reasons to visit our #1 hike in the world. Everyone who tries that adventure loves it – West Coast Trail, Vancouver Island, Canada.
Editor’s note: our own Carley Fairbrother sings praises for this trail, but recommends the Cape Scott Trail even more! See why in her article – “Why I Did the Cape Scott Trail Instead of the West Coast Trail”.
Traveling, hiking, adventuring – it’s something anyone can do. I’ve seen thoroughly equipped hikers going up trails at the same pace as grandmas wearing slippers. What do you think is the correct amount of equipment for a trail?
The goal should be maximum enjoyment of the trip. Certainly I’d not be as happy carrying ultralight gear. For me tent, proper sleeping bag, stove and food I enjoy are essential.
My gear is light enough that I can carry it comfortably 6-8 hours / day. That’s light enough for me.
Since we’ve mentioned grandmas wearing slippers: what do you often see travelers do on your trips that really grinds your gears?
Litter on the trails bothers me. I see a lot of that in developing nations.
Loud groups in campsites are sometimes a problem. I typically set-up my tent in a spot furthest from roads and toilets.
First time you went on an adventure: how did it feel then, how do you look back at it now, and what’s a particular thing you remember?
Born and raised in a city, I was not completely comfortable in the wilderness for the first few years of serious hiking. We worried about bears in the Canadian Rockies way back then.
Now I am completely happy alone in a tent out in the middle of nowhere. Even in bear territory.
If you could place down a small cabin anywhere in the world, where would you like to settle down for a vacation home away from home?
New Zealand is our #1 hiking destination in the world. I’d love to have a cabin on the south island, but in a location with no sandflies.
Top three outdoors activities you’ve practiced – go!
- Mountain biking
Now for the end: what’s the next challenge on your list and how are you preparing for it? Mentally and physically.
Having just finished 3 months in Europe I’m gearing up next for a bikepacking trip in Patagonia early 2019. That’s the Carretera Austral which runs north/south 1240 kilometers (770 mi) in little developed wilderness. There are many new National Parks and trails being developed right now.
So what did you think of it? Don’t forget to follow Rick on social media and leave your opinions on his most famous hikes below!