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10 day epic trip - Advice needed (pref. 50%+ cross-country)
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Brent Mahan

Locale: Southern New Hampshire
10 day epic trip - Advice needed (pref. 50%+ cross-country) on 03/13/2013 07:53:50 MDT Print View

Hi everyone. Haven't posted on here since last summer. First, let me say your advice and guidance on my last trip was excellent. Thank you.

Last summer I hiked the full Sierra High Route in July solo. Completed the route at a comfortable pace in 17 days including 9 major summit side trips along the way. It truly was a trip of a lifetime. Made me a better man and provided me with memories and experiences that will stay with me forever.

This summer I'd like to do something similar, but with a smaller budget of time. I have around 10 days or so, probably in August. This trip will also be solo.

I am looking for ideas for a rugged, gorgeous, challenging, rewarding, uncrowded, and unique trip.

Preferred specifics
* I'd like the trip to be 50%+ off trail/cross-country or at least on trails that are pretty empty
* A pace between 14-24 miles per day (depending on altitude and terrain)
* Opportunities for summits either on the route or on side trips
* Terrain should be cl3+ or less (no ropes)
* Gorgeous scenery
* Uncrowded and isolated
* Large percentage of trip above or near the tree line
* Open to flying to get there (I live in NH)
* Doesn't have to be in the USA, but can't be too far (flight cost)

Thanks in advance for the feedback and ideas. Love this forum.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: big solo trip on 03/13/2013 08:13:26 MDT Print View

If you packraft, Alaska is the obvious suggestion. Either Nebesna to McCarthy or the Hayes Range traverse from Black Rapids to McKinley Village. You need a boat for both but the mandatory paddling is limited to river crossings and flat water.

The Bob Marshall would be my next suggestion. Fly into Kalispell, hire a ride on Craigslist, get dropped off down in the Swan. Hike down to the South Fork, up the White River, then get up high and traverse the Chinese Wall and the North Wall all the way to the Middle Fork. No human trails, but lots of good game trails. Hike the Middle Fork to Essex and take the train back to civilization. You wouldn't have to rent a car this way.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re re big trip on 03/13/2013 08:59:03 MDT Print View

For someone who doesn't packraft how about a big loop through southeast Yellowstone and the Bridger Teton NF? I might do this myself. Any suggestions David?

Tommy Franzen
(Tomlike) - F

Locale: Pacific Wonderland
Wind River on 03/13/2013 09:11:34 MDT Print View

The Wind River Range in Wyoming should meet all of your criteria. Endless off-trail possibilities, epic scenery, etc. So many routes are possible I won't list any specifics, but you can start here

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: GYE and Winds on 03/13/2013 09:38:41 MDT Print View

The Winds are a good option, though they get more traffic than other options.

The SE section of Yellowstone, both inside and outside the park, isn't uncrowded in late summer (by my jaded standards). Get up high in the Absarokas along the eastern boundary of the park and I imagine you'd enjoy some good solitude. A high traverse from Togwotee Pass to Cooke City would be pretty cool. I don't have enough on the ground knowledge to offer specifics.

Another option to pursue would be something in the Bitterroots/Frank Church/Selway complex. Beyond the major rivers and frontcountry things get lonely fast. Aside from the central Bitterroots this doesn't fulfill the OPs summits and alpine requirement very well, and is much less a turnkey option in terms of route planning.

A big traverse in the Uintas would be worth investigating, though the TH shuttle aspect might be a bit of a nuisance.

Must be something in the Cascades that would fit the bill.

If you're willing to wait until fall, the Grand Canyon and CO plateau offer many options which would fulfill all the original requirements.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re re GYE and Winds on 03/13/2013 10:02:53 MDT Print View

We'd be there in July.

So Winds and SE Yellowstone somewhat crowded. How about a non packraft trip in the Bob Marshell or Absaroka Beartooths?

Elizabeth Tracy
(mariposa) - M

Locale: Outside
Sierras version on 03/13/2013 16:27:37 MDT Print View

I too would probably go for something like the Wind Rivers - just something different than what you saw in the Sierras.

However, if the snowpack looks high in July - a pretty early time to hike that far north (unless you don't mind several snow crossings?) - a few people have figured out an extension southward from the Roper Route (Roads End, Kings Canyon):

Somewhere on the web (I don't have it bookmarked) there is a map that someone made, called something like "Roper Route South."

Easy to extend this into a ten-day trip by making any number of diversions from the route. Most people, given those extra few days, would probably go exploring Milestone Basin, Picket Creek/Kaweah Basins, or would strike out across the headwaters of the Kern to climb Tyndall Peak or Mt. Williamson.

Post your question on the High Sierra Topix forum for far more detailed and expert advice.

- Elizabeth

Dylan Snodgrass

Locale: San Francisco, CA
re: Big Solo Trip on 03/14/2013 09:13:18 MDT Print View

You might try the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness. I just dipped my toe in last hiking season and the Beartooth plateau is an epic zone to explore with plenty of peaks to climb including Granite Peak MT the highest peak in MT. No need for specialized climbing gear just decent mountain skills.
Check this link out for a route that places you in a perfect place to access the rest of the plateau.
Linke here:

Not ambitious enough but again puts you in a good spot to access the plateau and how I wound up putzing around in the Beartooth's. The part titled Western Montana Part 4: Beartooth Mountains Areo Lakes Area is the important section. Link here:

The Winds are awesome but I suspect a little too crowed for the time of year you'll be hiking and past experience on the SHR. Last hiking season my partner and I saw people in every part of the Winds our running joke about route finding during the off trail portions was... When in doubt follow the use trail! Either way this should get you stoked.

peter vacco

Locale: no. california
Re: 10 day epic trip - Advice needed (pref. 50%+ cross-country) on 03/14/2013 11:27:39 MDT Print View

10 days ... ? .. nahh. stop dorking around, add some time, and do the Canol Historic trail.
that'd be exact per your requiremtns ... as it's about half missing.


David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: 10 day epic on 03/14/2013 13:03:51 MDT Print View

Vacco, you've read the mountain bike report, yes? Sounds pretty cool:

The Beartooths north of Yellowstone are pretty cool. If you get away from the main trails and Granite Peak you won't see many people. I haven't spent nearly enough time there.

Brent Mahan

Locale: Southern New Hampshire
Wow on 03/14/2013 18:31:42 MDT Print View

Wow, you guys are awesome. Some truly excellent recommendations.

I ordered Nancy Pallister's book on the winds. Was very surprised to see pics of The Winds and how closely they look like parts of the Sierras. Definitely an area I'll strongly consider. Concerned about too many people, but I doubt it would be easy to find a route again as uncrowded as the Sierra High Route that was as amazing. I literally went more than 3 days without seeing people during a couple parts of my trip.

Many of the other options sound great too.

Lots to research further and digest.

Thanks for the tips. Keep 'em coming!

Chris Ramias
Re: re: GYE and Winds on 03/17/2013 09:33:11 MDT Print View

To pile on to what David Chenault posted, you should consider the Grand Canyon as a serious option. Once you're off trail (and even just on the more remote, non-corridor trails) it will be as uncrowded and spectacular as the SHR was but in an entirely different way. There's tons of options for well-documented off trail routes. Rather than summit-bagging you can bag slot canyons along the way too, which to my way of thinking is more fun anyways. Take a look at "Grand Canyoneering" by Todd Martin and "Hiking Grand Canyon Loops" by George Steck.

Edited by Lizard on 03/17/2013 09:36:48 MDT.