BACKPACKER DAN: For more than a year, independent.com has been regularly publishing Hiking the Backcountry, a column on how all ages can enjoy the nearby trails and campgrounds, authored by Crane School history teacher Dan McCaslin, whose been trekking the Los Padres National Forest since 1971. “I have always loved far-travel, and my wife, Judy, and I took our son to all sorts of places around the world,” said McCaslin of trips to Germany, Italy, Greece, India, and Malaysia. “But when he was 3, I fell under the local backcountry’s spell, and we started going out into the San Rafael constantly. I now realize ‘travel’ into the local wilderness zones is more exotic and enlightening than most foreign travel. I’ve been scrawling columns to entice other locals to surge back there and bring their kids, too!” See independent.com/hiking.