Dustin Walker runs the blog Slick & Twisted Trails. He is a journalist-turned-marketer living in Nanaimo, B.C., Canada. He enjoys hiking with his wife, Shawneen, along Vancouver Island’s drenched west coast during storm season. Dustin has trudged up remote ruins in the mountains of Peru and roamed the villages of post-quake Nepal.
Slick & Twisted Trails is a blog dedicated to backpackers who shun the beaten path. For that, the blog has a map that helps adventurous readers find the trails less traveled.
Slick & Twisted Trails
Hiking and Overcrowding
1. How did your journey begin? What motivated you to start this project – SlickAndTwistedTrails.com?
Dustin Walker: Where I live (Vancouver Island, B.C.), the West Coast Trail is king. It has a reputation for being one of the world’s greatest backpacking routes — and it is awesome. But it also sees a lot of traffic every year and you need to get a permit a month in advance to hike the bloody thing.
That motivated me to look for alternatives to the West Coast Trail when I first moved to the area. And, after a bit of searching, I found loads of awesome backpacking routes that many locals hadn’t even heard of. So, I decided to start Slick & Twisted Trails as a way to introduce people to these types of lesser-known or “hidden” hiking trails across North America.
2. What do you think of the overcrowding of national parks in the U.S.?
Dustin Walker: On one hand, I think it’s great that more people are getting out there and enjoying the outdoors. But the problem is that the most popular parks are often the ones that get swamped with people in the busy summer months. This puts pressure on park infrastructure and the environment in general.
3. What solution do you think exists for this problem?
Dustin Walker: That’s a tough one because you hate to deter people from exploring amazing places. But I always recommend hikers consider exploring lesser-known parks, which can be just as awesome as the more popular places. For example, tourism officials in Utah recently started promoting alternatives to the famous Zion National Park in an effort to reduce the crowds.
4. What is never missing from your backpack when you go hiking on overcrowding?
Dustin Walker: That’s another tough one. I actually started embracing an “ultralight” mentality when I go backpacking. By only bringing the absolute minimum amount of food and gear — thereby lightening your backpack — you can hike farther, faster, and with less fatigue.
5. What should people know when going hiking on less well-known routes?
Dustin Walker: I think the number 1 thing to know is that just because a trail isn’t popular doesn’t mean it isn’t amazing.
And, personally, I would rather hike in solitude, even if that means the views aren’t quite as nice. But that’s ultimately up to each individual hiker.