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Thru-Hike or Packraft?
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Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - F

Locale: NW Montana
Thru-Hike or Packraft? on 11/18/2012 15:51:26 MST Print View

I will be finishing a Master's degree in May of 2014. As a celebration, my wife has agreed to let me do a long trail such as the JMT, SHR, or something similar, probably in the Sierra.

Then I was thinking the other day, what if I got a packraft instead?

Now I don't know what to do: Take a great trip that I won't have the chance to repeat for many years (especially if kids start coming our way in a few years) or have an exciting tool for exploring the wilderness closer to home?

Help me decide.

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
re: thru hike or packraft on 11/18/2012 16:16:08 MST Print View

For me, as a professional with two small girls, money is easier to find than time. I have a packraft which I love, but lack the time to spend more than 5-6 days out on a trip. If I were you, I'd go with the experience over the gear. The SHR would be a trip to remember. Of course, money and time are not mutually exclusive. Maybe yu could buy a packraft and spend two weeks exploring with it.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Time vs. Toys on 11/18/2012 18:04:41 MST Print View

I agree with Ike, time MIGHT be more valuable then money right now. As long as you are sure a thru-hike is something you really want to do I'd say do it now and save up for a packraft later. Here would be my one concern. I'm told by some married guys that really long hikes aren't fun after a certain point because they want to be back with the family. I'd still lean towards a thru-hike but its something I'd think about.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Thru-Hike or Packraft? on 11/18/2012 18:38:21 MST Print View

I would take the trip. Free time for a long hike is a chance that does not present itself readily. Plenty of rafting to be done on weekend trips.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Thru-Hike or Packraft? on 11/18/2012 18:57:16 MST Print View

> As a celebration, my wife has agreed to let me do a long trail such as the JMT, SHR,
> or something similar, probably in the Sierra.

A really really smart guy would ask his wife to come on the trip. Even if it means going a bit slower or something.


Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
thru-hike on 11/18/2012 19:05:38 MST Print View

Go for the thru-hike.

Time is a harder commodity to get as the years go on. You'll have money to buy the toys later. Trust me...

As for bringing the wife, only if she is into backpacking for long periods of time.

Not everyone wants to do that. :D (If you wife does not want to go on a long hike, though, maybe she can meet you along the way? Be a way to involve her in the journey)

The SHR would be my preference over the JMT for whatever it is worth, but only if you have good navigational skills and/or you want the challenge. Sometimes it is just nice to simply walk and enjoy the scenery.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Another Hiking Option on 11/18/2012 19:37:47 MST Print View

I think you'd love either the JMT or SHR but if you want to do something closer to home why not do a big loop through the Bob Marshell Wilderness or the Yellowstone Ecosystem? Maybe for a special trip you'd rather go someplace different but I've always wanted to do those trips.

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Thru-Hike or Packraft? on 11/18/2012 19:45:39 MST Print View

+1 JMT Thru-Hike



Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Hike on 11/18/2012 19:46:20 MST Print View

But only do the shr if you have quite a bit of hiking experience. The JMT would be more fun if you haven't spent a lot of time in the Sierra or had a good bit of experience. But whichever, do the hike.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Re: Thru-Hike or Packraft? on 11/18/2012 19:49:44 MST Print View

Thruhike. Definitely.

Everyone will be packayaking in a few years anyways.

*Congratulations on your achievements and hard work.

Edited by Eugeneius on 11/18/2012 19:50:48 MST.

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - F

Locale: NW Montana
Re: Re: Thru-Hike or Packraft? on 11/18/2012 20:15:44 MST Print View

Quite the consensus. Thanks guys. It sounds like a thru-hike is the best idea. I have a tendency to focus on things, and I've been working to be more grateful and less materialistic, so it's spiritually better on that front too.

Roger and Paul--The wife does indeed enjoy hiking, but she's not much interested in a week and a half or more on the trail. I do like the idea of having her join me for a stretch, if we can work out the logistics. Fortunately, I should have the time since I teach high school and we have that nice summer break.

I plan on doing quite a bit of training in my backyard (Glacier and the Bob) this upcoming season, going off-trail frequently to work on navigation skills. The SHR is my first choice for the challenge and the smaller crowds.

Luke--if you want to join me for a big loop in the Bob or the Greater Yellowstone this upcoming summer, let me know. I hope to do a few of them.

Jay--your pictures are very persuasive.

Eugene--Thanks. It's my second Master's, and not a degree I wanted, but the-powers-that-be determined that I needed. Unfortunately for my program, the hiking is more of a reward than the learning itself.