Forum Index » General Lightweight Backpacking Discussion » Trip Suggestions for Father and 8 y/o Son


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Aaron Armstrong
(traderaaron) - F

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Airport to Trailhead on 03/01/2010 09:05:39 MST Print View

Easy logistics combined with scenery.

Here's a TR from someone here that did the trip in a way I was suggesting. http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=9499

I am not sure it is suitable for your son or not but that's up to you to decide. It's a consistently high altitude area.

Brian Camprini
(bcamprini) - MLife

Locale: Southern Appalachians
Re: Re: Re: Airport to Trailhead on 03/01/2010 16:40:38 MST Print View

Well, we certainly don't lack for lots of beautiful places in this country, do we? All of your suggestions are appreciated very much. Emigrant sounds perfect, but after some research today on flights, it's an expensive flight (about $600/ticket) to MMH and a reeeeally long trip out there (9+ hours just on planes and airports). Red eye on the way home too unless I fork out substantially more $. South America would be cheaper and almost as fast! Yes there are other routes, but not much cheaper and more complicated.

Here in Atlanta we have all kinds of deals to CO now (i.e. Durango and Grand Junction for $250 r/t). A quick search says Aspen is $450 r/t and fast. It's not all about money, but still, it's a huge difference. The Aspen scenario is so simple and beautiful, and Durango is priced super low, so I'm leaning towards CO now. I mean it's not like it's some shabby destination!

Any stellar trail suggestions with easy access (prefer no car rental) from Durango or Grand Junction would be appreciated.

As for elevation, well, that's an issue, but then again, when I was a kid I flew to CO many times and never had any issues. On the lifts as soon as I landed. But back then nobody told me it was an issue.

Brian Camprini
(bcamprini) - MLife

Locale: Southern Appalachians
Colorado on 03/01/2010 16:50:24 MST Print View

BTW...this guy has some nice trip reports. If they don't make you want to get out, nothing will.

http://www.mycolorado.org/trip_reports.html

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Another RM website on 03/01/2010 17:22:54 MST Print View

www.rockymountainscenery.com

The Aspen hike mentioned ealier where you can bus to the trailhead is the one in Maroon Bells Wilderness, the Four Pass Loop. Falcon has a book for Maroon Bells. I've heard it described as "so beautiful it looks fake."

It's on my short list.

Brian Camprini
(bcamprini) - MLife

Locale: Southern Appalachians
Re: Another RM website on 03/01/2010 17:32:11 MST Print View

Dean--searching Four Pass Loop is actually how I found that site--beautiful huh?

The one labelled "Wildflower Trip" is really stunning too and I'm trying to figure out logistics for getting from the Durango airport to that trail. Seems easy with a car, but prefer a shuttle if possible.

I'll check out that website you suggested. Thanks!

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
CO ideas on 03/01/2010 18:01:57 MST Print View

I can't comment on transportation much. But since you seem to be heading for CO heres my 2 cents.

Elevation
I personally wouldn't sweet the altitude. My five siblings and I went to Colorado most summers since I was a little kid and we never had problems, we just took the first couple of days real easy.

Places to Go
If you want jaw dropping scenery without much driving, I would go for Indian Peaks Wilderness. Popular day hikes like Isabelle Lake can be crowded but once we got past the day hikers it didn't seem too crowded. I would guess its better than most CA wilderness areas. I just checked a map and the trip we did across Indian Peaks could be turned into a loop by connecting it to another trail (that would be Cascade Cr. Trail, Beaver Cr. Trail, and Buchanan Pass Trail. The pictures on Google Earth look very nice. Check DondoOudoors for a trip report he did on this hike.

The reason I liked Lost Creek Wilderness is that it has some cool stuff at relatively low elevation. There are two loop hikes on the eatern half of the Wilderness. Heres a link to my trip report on this area and another
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=25400
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=21117
1. The Goose Creek loop (about 20 miles). Its got a lot of cool rock formations but not the really dramatic scenery.
2. McCurdy Creek trail combined with other trials makes a 27 to 31 mile loop depending on where you start. It has the rock formations and the trail is at or above treeline for about five miles with some nice views (although not as good as Indian Peaks). If you hike counter clockwise starting at Lost Park Campground its not too hard. Avoid the Ute Creek trailhead because its a brutal climb.

If it was me personally I would lean toward Indian Peaks if I wanted really impressive scenery without a lot of driving. If elevation turns out to be a problem Lost Creek could be a backup option.
Have fun!!

Edit - If you're flying into Durango why not take the train and hike in the San Juans?
My family likes the scenery of the Aspen area but not the flys they say they are the worst they've seen in CO so be ready.

Edited by Cameron on 03/01/2010 18:04:39 MST.

Brian Camprini
(bcamprini) - MLife

Locale: Southern Appalachians
Re: CO ideas on 03/01/2010 18:22:39 MST Print View

Luke--I'm on the Durango-Silverton train website right now. Can you tell me what trails are in that area or where I can go to get more info, maps, etc? I think the CDT passes thru there if I remember correctly. Need to find out if he can handle those trails and logistics for putting this all together, though.

Flys huh? Are you sure, that's not mentioned on any of the Aspen tourism websites.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Re CO Ideas on 03/01/2010 18:33:39 MST Print View

Yes flies were bad when we went up for a day hike near Crested Butte and my family said they were bad on the Aspen side the next year. This was at lower elevations so maybe its not as bad higher up. Aspen and Crested Butte are known for sking and wildflowers which I would assume means they get more moisture which contributes to the problem.
I can't tell you as much about the Silverton-Durango area because I haven't been able to do much of anything down there except drive through. The Colorado Trail does go through there and my parents too me hiking along it when I was about 2 years old. The pictures look nice. Looking at a map I don't think its perfect (looks like kinda steep climbing)but I'm sure you could figure something good out. I heard the train ride was relatively pricy so I don't know how it compares to a rental car.
Edit
I forgot the CDT trail goes through there too I hear its almost all above treeline and very scenic. I would recommend downloading the free Google Earth. Once you get used to it its a cool way to check an area out and there are lots of embedded pictures. Andyskurka.com has pictures of this area from his Colorado Trail hikes.

Edited by Cameron on 03/01/2010 18:37:27 MST.

Brian Camprini
(bcamprini) - MLife

Locale: Southern Appalachians
Re: Re Re CO Ideas on 03/01/2010 18:46:48 MST Print View

C'mon, you don't remember the trip when you were 2?

I have Google Earth, always forget to use it--lol. I'll check Skurka's site too.

FYI--the train is about the same price as renting a car. Max speed is 18mph, though.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
One idea on 03/01/2010 18:57:49 MST Print View

I just mapped out about a 33 mile route on DeLorme Topo assuming the train stops at both trailheads you could go up Elk Creek and across the mountains to Vallecito Creek than cross the mountains again and go down Neeldle Creek to the railroad (or the other way around). I haven't done a fancy calculation/comparision of elevation gains etc. but this looks doable doing about 5 to 6 miles a day. It does look like there are going to be some steep climbs with a lot of switchbacking. I'm sure there are some good guidebooks for the area if you hunt around.
I see lots of other cool destinations in the area but you'll have to decide how comfortable you are spending a lot of your time above treeline to do some of them.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Durango-Silverton RR hike on 03/01/2010 18:59:35 MST Print View

Brian, one classic CO hike is to get off the train at the Needleton stop. This gives you access to head steeply to the east, grunting your way several thousand feet up to the stunning Chicago Basin. Keep in mind that the train only runs once a day, and if you need to bail for any reason, you'd have to wait until the next train comes.

By the way, travel logistics from Durango to Aspen are goofy, probably a couple bus rides. You could always fly. But I think I'd not recommend the 4 Pass Loop (Aspen area)for an 8-year old--lots of ups and downs, where you gain/lose 2000' each day. Coming from a low altitude, I think this would be quite the strain on you both, but especially your son.

Another thought, maybe rent a place in Estes Park, and do several great day hikes in RMNP. Lots of people until you get higher up, but it's a national park for good reason. The Indian Peaks, as mentioned, offers scads of great hikes, some in-and-back, some scenic loops. All in all, I think the altitude will be a bit of a factor, if you're only going to be here for a week. Plan accordingly (including serious hydration a couple days before you get here), and acclimate wisely.

I'm not trying to scare you here, Brian. It's just that this thread drifted a bit, and folks were mentioning some hikes that maybe aren't quite appropriate for a low-altitude 8-year old. YMMV...

John Whynot
(jdw01776)

Locale: Southeast Texas
Re: Re: Re Re CO Ideas on 03/01/2010 19:02:59 MST Print View

Brian:

I've been to the Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness 3 times (2003, 2008, and 2009). The flies, which are annoying, seemed to go away once you get above 10,000 feet.

Despite the expense, I found having a rental car made things much easier, and opens up many options.

As far as the train between Silverton and Durango, I don't think the trailheads along the railroad route are accessible except from the train...

Edited by jdw01776 on 03/01/2010 19:04:27 MST.

Jason McSpadden
(JBMcSr1) - M

Locale: Rocky Mountains
There are a couple of trails off of the train on 03/01/2010 19:03:01 MST Print View

I grew up in Durango and worked on the train in highschool. There are a couple of trails that the train "used" to stop for--I don't know if they still do. As I recall one of the possible trails is up Elk Creek toward the base of Twilight Peak and Crater Lake. The other (if I remember correctly) is a trail up to Columbine Pass and the Chicago Basin. It is gorgeous country with good water, old mines, wild strawberries and raspberries, and amazing views.

I hope this might be some help in looking for a trail.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Hydration on 03/01/2010 19:07:16 MST Print View

Ditto on the hydration idea (especially for the boy). My friend runs an outdoor ed program for schools at 9000 feet. Kids from Denver stay about 3 days and almost every week someone gets dehydrated even though he tells them to drink and the teachers make them carry around water bottles.
Gary - Can you (or anyone else from the area)compare the hikes along the RR to Indian Peaks as far as difficulty (as in being really steep)? My flatlander family did an Indian Peaks backpacking trip (with a 9 yr. old)just fine although we had been in the mountains for something like a week before that.

Edited by Cameron on 03/01/2010 19:09:01 MST.

Brian Camprini
(bcamprini) - MLife

Locale: Southern Appalachians
Re: Durango-Silverton RR hike on 03/01/2010 19:59:38 MST Print View

Gary--I didn't realize doing the train thing would possibly leave me with little or no bailout options. Probably isn't wise with a kid. The idea of renting a place doesn't appeal, though. We want to sleep out on the trail. I think I just need to do some more research on these CO trails. If I have to rent a car, I'll just have to. If I fly to Durango or Grand Junct, the airfare is cheap enough to justify it. Then it's just a matter of picking a place and going there.

I appreciate everyone's advice and I'm learning a lot, but man I wish this was easier. Maybe I'm making it harder than it is. Maybe that's why these places are so special though...it ain't like booking a trip to Disneyland.

John Whynot
(jdw01776)

Locale: Southeast Texas
Re: Re: Durango-Silverton RR hike on 03/01/2010 20:07:58 MST Print View

One good thing about the Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness, is that you can camp at USFS campgrounds (Silver Bells is best for tent camping) on Maroon Creek Road. From there it's a short drive or shuttle bus ride to the trailhead, and an easy 1.5 hike to the first backcountry campsites at Crater Lake.

Brian Camprini
(bcamprini) - MLife

Locale: Southern Appalachians
Re: Re: Re: Durango-Silverton RR hike on 03/01/2010 20:29:48 MST Print View

John--that sounds about perfect to me right now. As much as I'm enjoying learning about all of the hiking options in the Western US, it's making my head hurt. Hopping on a flight and then maybe picking up some fuel and hitting the trail sounds like the perfect plan at this point! You and Staples sure know how to sell that "Easy" button thing.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Narrowing down. on 03/01/2010 20:50:41 MST Print View

Hope I don't help too much Brian but I'm a big fan of taking kids backpacking so I'm enjoying this.
To actually try and narrow things down here are our three best options based on where you fly into.
1. Fly to Aspen and head for Maroon Bells.
2. Fly to Denver rent a car/catch shuttle and head for the front range which basically means Indian Peaks or Rocky Mountain National Park.
3. Fly to Durango rent a car/catch shuttle and head for a trailhead in the Wimiuche Wilderness area other than trailheads along the RR.

I have an Indian Peaks bias and haven't really got deep into the Maroon Bells but the pictures look great. My guess is you can't go wrong with any of these.

Brian Camprini
(bcamprini) - MLife

Locale: Southern Appalachians
Re: Narrowing down. on 03/01/2010 21:00:46 MST Print View

Luke--thank you for putting so much thought into this for me. I'm really excited about this and all of the advice just fantastic. Like you said I can't go wrong--that is really an understatement.

This area in the Mt. Sneffels/Blue Lake area just has me mesmerized...

http://www.mycolorado.org/images/trips/wildflowers_2008/blue_lk-1804.jpg

Getting late here in the East...thanks again for everything. I'll do some more pondering tomorrow.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Google Wave? on 03/01/2010 21:13:15 MST Print View

Brian,

By any chance do you have access to Google Wave? A friend and I are planning our big summer hike using a Wave, and if you have access to it I'll "invite" you to see it.

It has Google maps I've made of a lot of hikes including the Chicago Basin train shuttle hike, several loops in Maroon Bells including the Four Pass loop, some trails on the east side of the Weminuche Wilderness, the Sangre de Cristo range, a shuttle hike we briefly considered in RMNP, loops in Lost Creek Wilderness, and loops in Flat Tops Wilderness. We are favoring linked loops because of the many bail options and their scalability if we find ourselves moving quicker or slower than planned.

Note- both the Four Pass loop and the Chicago Basin train shuttle hike are incredibly popular. (Read: crowded on weekends.)

PM me if you have Wave access, and I'll "invite" you.

Edited by acrosome on 03/01/2010 21:18:21 MST.