Modern Living: Ah, Wilderness!

Except for an ardent few, Americans have traditionally looked upon long hikes as a slow form of torture inflicted upon Boy Scouts and Army infantrymen. That view seems to be changing. With 20-to 40-lb. packs strapped to their backs, millions of nature lovers are now taking to the trails. Many stick to the neighboring countryside, but some groups are venturing so far into the wilderness that they carry homing pigeons to send back in case of trouble. (One feathered courier brought back news of a forest fire last year.) Other backpackers boldly tackle the...

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