Thru-Hiking New Zealand: The Fabled Tararua Ranges

In our quest to conquer Te Araroa, New Zealand’s 3,000km tramping trail that runs the length of both islands, one last challenge lies between us and the end of the North Island: the Tararua Ranges. The first real mountains on Te Araroa, the Tararuas are fabled to be one of the toughest hikes yet. From steep climbs and descents to hazardous weather blowing in from the Antarctic, we are in for a real challenge, whether we’re ready for it or not. By now, my dad and I have been on the trail for nearly two months and have already conquered some challenging terrain: steep and muddy rain forests, rocky volcanic scree, and the concrete jungle of Auckland. Though the Bluff, the end of the trail, is still over 1,300 km…

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MSR Backcountry Cafe: Make Ahead Mac-N-Cheese

Story and Photos by Tara Alan Where I live, in the Green Mountains of Vermont, the first yellow, orange, and russet leaves are beginning to appear scattered upon the ground. Nights are becoming cool enough to wear a jacket, and the scent of wood smoke is apparent on the breeze. It’s clear that autumn is just around the corner! What better way to spend these glorious end-of-summer days than in the woods? And what better way to end them than with an evening of camping? On chill nights like these, I want a supper that’s warm and cheesy, quick and easy: macaroni and cheese. As far as I’m concerned, there’s a spectrum of macaroni and cheese. On one end are those blue boxes containing a handful of elbow noodles and…

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MSR Backcountry Cafe: Tomato Pasta

Though it was early September when my husband and I were cycling through the Po River Valley region of Italy, the summer sun still blazed, dry and scorching, lending a golden light to an already golden landscape. As well as being oppressively hot, the afternoon was also deathly quiet. We were used to this Italian riposo by now, that time between about two and four in the afternoon when shops closed, the buzz of activity at the local café dwindled, and the wooden shutters on everyone’s homes were shut tightly against that flaming sun. And so, it was with some surprise that I happened upon an elderly man who was up and about, despite the riposo. He was standing in a field that was parched, barren, and brown, walking carefully through the…

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