Forum Index » General Lightweight Backpacking Discussion » Trip advice: Summer, West of here!


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todd harper
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: Sunshine State
Trip advice: Summer, West of here! on 06/10/2009 12:52:02 MDT Print View

I'm pumped!

I love the trip reports I read on here, especially the photos.

My whole life has been in the Southeast, including my hiking. I've been other places, of course, but since my wife and most of my Florida buddies don't hike (or are fair weather hikers), a trip to Colorado, AZ, Utah, Texas, Montana, etc for a hike has been a dream.

Well, a friend of mine called and said he's tired of wishing and ready to plan a Summer 2010 hike! He's serious this time!!!!!

I figure 10-15 mile days, about 5 days' duration, with good water sources, and views/wildlife would be essential. I've handled a few 16 mile days in the Carolina mountains, and he has to get in better shape, FWIW. He's dedicated, though, so I'm not overly worried. He mentioned June, but that may be flexible. Neither of us are accustomed to altitude as of today. As for navigation skills, I'd prefer on-trail.

Where would the experts recommend? Thanks for your advice.

Todd

Edited by funnymoney on 06/10/2009 13:56:06 MDT.

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
timing of your trip? on 06/10/2009 13:39:19 MDT Print View

Do you know what month you will be free to travel, or are you open? Do you want/need to stay on trail, or do you have off-trail navigation and route-finding skills? Do you know if you both are OK at altitude?

If you're available between Aug15 and Sept15 and OK to 12000 feet, then it's hard to beat the southern Sierra Nevada. Lots of 50-75 mile options.
If you're looking at April, May, or October, then southern Utah is hard to beat. Again, plenty of options.
I'm not familiar with other parts of the west, so I can't help there.
Do you prefer coastal walking, and free in April/May? Lost Coast in northern California is worth a look.

Edited by drongobird on 06/10/2009 13:41:34 MDT.

todd harper
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: Sunshine State
Re: timing of your trip? on 06/10/2009 13:55:28 MDT Print View

Thanks Amy, I updated the original post to show date, altitude "readiness", etc.

Chris Higbee
(chigbee) - F
Re: trip advice on 06/10/2009 16:53:17 MDT Print View

If it were possible to change your date to August-September my advice would be to look into the Highline Trail in Utah. You would definitely need to get your body used to elevation as a huge portion of the trail is above timberline and you pretty much never drop below 10,000', but I believe it would be well worth it.

The trail follows most of the East-West ridge of the high Uinta wilderness and can be stretched anywhere from 50 miles out to close to 100. Finding water is never a problem and in my opinion it crosses some of the most beautiful places in the world. Seeing a moose eating in the middle of an alpine lake is something you won't forget. That being said the trip would take a fair amount of preperation and there are literally hundreds of spectacular places out West.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Trip advice: Summer, West of here! on 06/10/2009 19:13:13 MDT Print View

"Where would the experts recommend? Thanks for your advice."

Hi Todd,
I'd enthusiastically Amy's recommendation of the Southern Sierra for mid August thru mid(maybe late) September, although 5 days might be a little short to really get to the best parts. There is also some very nice country accessed from Bishop, CA, a bit to the north of the Southern Sierra in the same time frame-Paiute Pass to Humphrey's Basin, Lamarck Col to Darwin Canyon. Either of those routes offer access to the Evolution country in a five day time frame if you are reasonably fit. Farther north, there are many outstanding hikes in either the Cascades of Washington State or Olympic National Park that you could do in 5 days. Take your pick! It's a candy shop out here.

todd harper
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: Sunshine State
Re: Re: Trip advice: Summer, West of here! on 06/10/2009 20:01:18 MDT Print View

You guys are great! I appreciate the tips. Please keep 'em comin'!

te - wa
(mikeinfhaz) - F

Locale: Phoenix
s. san juan on 06/10/2009 22:52:25 MDT Print View

Todd, i am planned to visit the South San Juan wldns next month. 10-15 mile days, 5 days' duration. Lots to see!
(and you can fish!)

this summer like all the rest im getting out of the valley. spending time above 9K in AZ is priceless - the CO trip will be 12.5+K

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Trip advice: Summer, West of here! on 06/11/2009 09:41:02 MDT Print View

June is not optimal for the Sierra Nevada due to bugs. You could limit your trip to stay below the snowpack, wherever it is in June2010. But in June the mosquitoes hatch wherever the snow has melted.

To summarize timing in the southern high Sierra (Mono pass south to Cottonwood Pass): mosquitoes back off sometime between August 1 and Sept 1. In a low snowpack year (like 2009) Aug 1 should be fine. In a really high snowpack year mosquitoes can be bad into late Aug. In general, if you're planning in advance and don't know what the snowpack will be, then Aug 15 is a reasonable guess. And the weather stays viable, generally, through the end of September.

If you choose the Sierra (and you have a hundred other good options), then pick any trail hike that meets your distance requirements between Mono Pass (which is just south of Mammoth) and Cottonwood Pass. It doesn't much matter where you go once you're in that region, as it is all lovely. One nice trip that might be about the right distance for you is North Lake -> Piute Pass -> drop down to pick up JMT -> Muir Pass -> LeConte Canyon -> Bishop Pass -> South Lake. One nice thing about that trip is you could do it without renting a car, by flying to Reno, taking public transit to Bishop and hitching to the trailheads.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Trip advice: Summer, West of here! on 06/11/2009 11:38:38 MDT Print View

West? How about NorthWest? Come to Canada to Vancouver Island to do the West Coast Trail....

More challenge than you can imagine!

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Trip advice: Summer, West of here! on 06/11/2009 17:29:21 MDT Print View

"One nice trip that might be about the right distance for you is North Lake -> Piute Pass -> drop down to pick up JMT -> Muir Pass -> LeConte Canyon -> Bishop Pass -> South Lake."

Todd,

This trip would be a real nice into to the Sierra. All on trail, magnificent scenery, and very doable in 5 days. Two things to keep in mind: 1) Depending on where you camp the last night, you may need a bear canister for the Bishop Pass/Dusy Basin area. Check with the White Mountain RS in Bishop for specifics. 2) Bishop is at 4000', the trail head is at ~9400', and Paiute Pass is ~11,500'. It is worth pondering your acclimatization routine if you are not already altitude fit. Staying in Bishop overnight, driving to the trail head, and hiking over Paiute Pass the same day needs to carefully evaluated. There is a campsite at trail head, first come first served, that you could possibly stay at to acclimatize one night.

todd harper
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: Sunshine State
Re: Trip advice: Summer, West of here! on 06/11/2009 18:37:42 MDT Print View

OK...an update to dates:

My friend called me today and said he could now go ANYTIME next year so I'm free to do Spring (it can't come too soon!)

So, with your favorite spot's best season in mind, does that help? I'm having fun researching all the areas you've recommended - Thank you again.

Todd

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Trip advice: Summer, West of here! on 06/11/2009 20:04:46 MDT Print View

"My friend called me today and said he could now go ANYTIME next year so I'm free to do Spring (it can't come too soon!)

So, with your favorite spot's best season in mind, does that help?"

Todd,

If you are thinking of the Sierra in the spring, say June, you will need to keep a very close eye on the previous winter/early spring snow fall. In a heavy snow year, many areas will be inaccessible and others VERY slow going. If you are considering the Cascades, most of the good areas will have significant snow into late June, at least from Snoqualmie Pass north, IME. Ditto the Olympic NP. Also, as the spring melt progresses, stream crossings can range from very difficult to downright dangerous. I'd recommend waiting until things have dried out a bit for your first adventure in either area in order to maximize your chances of an enjoyable intorduction to some great backpacking country. In my favorite area, the southern Sierra, September is my preferred month-no bugs very few people, and perfect weather most of the time.