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4/20/2016 8:58 PM
 

I hope this is the correct place to make the inquiry, but myself and two buddies have decided to meet up somewhere this summer for a long weekend. (3 to 4 days). I live in KY, one of my buddies is in CO,  and the third is out in northern CA. When we initially decided to make it happen the place that I settled on first was the Teton Crest Trail. However, after looking into the backcountry permit availability it doesn't seem like that's a trip you can make on such short notice. We're flexible on the dates with the exception of a few birthdays here and there, and precise time will likely be determined by the destination and elevation we choose. Our main focus is getting out in the wilderness and spending time together without the distractions and responsibilities of life's daily grind. There are countless national parks and places across the US, but it seems like a lot of the decision making is resting on me at this point. I know Evan and Scott post photos of amazing places I dreamed of as a kid and only thought existed in magazines up until 10 years ago, so I'm hoping some of you can offer some cool places to look into. I can give more details if needed, we're really not set on tackling any major purpose aside from some sort of adventure and time to just hang out with each other. 

 

If if this is not the purpose of this forum, I apologize in advance and please feel free to delete the thread. 

 

Thanks all,

Ray

 
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4/21/2016 5:57 AM
 

Since you're planning to have this adventure in the summer months, I am assuming you want to go to a place where the temps would be comfortable.  So, with that in mind, I think places like Arches NP or the Grand Canyon might not be the best choices.  Too dang hot in the summer.

So, here are a few other suggestions, ones that I don't think you'd have too much difficulty getting backcountry permits in.  Glacier NP in Montana is amazing.  However, this would require the logistics of flying into Kalispell, renting a vehicle, and figuring out what part of the park or surrounding Flathead National Forest you'd want to see.  Plus, you'll need bear defense along...bear spray, firearm(s), or both.  It'd be worth it, though.  Some of the most incredible scenery you'll ever lay your eyes on.

Two others that also are outstanding places are Yellowstone NP and Rocky Mountain NP in Colorado, which might make it easier, since one of your buddies lives in the state.  Both of these places are incredibly gorgeous, as well.  The temperatures would be nicer to deal with.  Hope these ideas help!  Good luck!


Hill People Gear Coureurs des Bois (Brand Ambassador). Victoria faveat paratam. De Oppresso Liber.
 
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4/21/2016 8:31 AM
 
This is a great place to post it. How about a bit more information, it appears you are looking for a backpacking trip, is that correct? As Alpndrms said, mountains and not desert? Are you set on going to a NP? Few if any of our pictures are from NPs, it is my experience that there is country as beautiful as the NP nearby without all the hassle. Plus there is literally thousands of square miles in the west, that you will have pretty much to yourself in the Summer if you avoid NPs, and popular trails like say the Maroon Bells in CO. I have been to a lot of national parks, and while beautiful they remind me of a city park or zoo due to the volume of people. If I am getting out I prefer to do it alone or with those in my group. If you do decide on a NP, then my first question would be for the HQ of that park: What is your least used area and why?

Given that CO is central and it would save one guy airfare I would be looking for somewhere in CO myself or perhaps parts of Wyoming and would be recommending NFs not NPs. Give us a bit more information and we can direct you on research.

Also maybe others will chime in.

Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
 
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4/21/2016 5:21 PM
 

Just to clarify and keep things in perspective....I agree that the National Parks are often choked with people.  There are lots of places that aren't given NP status, but are equally beautiful.  However, the National Parks were created for a reason....many of them are truly magnificent.  Some are big enough that you can get away from anyone, if that is the intent of the trip.


Hill People Gear Coureurs des Bois (Brand Ambassador). Victoria faveat paratam. De Oppresso Liber.
 
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4/21/2016 10:02 PM
 
Wow, thanks alpendrms and Scothill. To answer a few of your questions and provide more perspective, the overall plan is a backpacking trip. We could just hike out to a spot and set up some camp and then day hike out on individual hikes or backpack and camp as we go. As far a bear goes, I'm certainly not excited about the idea of running into one, but if we go to an area where that is a real concern then we will certainly make sure to have some form of protection. I'd need to look into the guidelines regarding flying with a firearm, but if it comes to down to it I know we could pull together the necessary guns required.

I think an area with mountains is also more appealing than desert given the time of year we're aiming for.

In reference to NP vs NF vs open country, I would certainly prefer to be in a place that wasn't full of tourists. I'm open to doing any of the three, but I have been telling my buddies that I know there has to be area's to backpack that aren't NP's and offer the same experience without the "side show" associated with some of the NP's. That being said, I am not against going to a NP but I just want to make sure where ever we go isn't full of tour buses and gives us a true back country experience.

I really appreciate you guys chiming in and sharing your thoughts...
 
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4/22/2016 6:39 AM
 
I might suggest looking at exploring a area. A 3-4 day hump could be just to experience a grand area for the first time, say Jewel Basin that is part of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Jewel Basin would give you a taste of the Bob. There will be other folks there, yes. But these folks are like minded folks. And you won't need a shuttle.

Where ever you three go, you will want to return and do "this or that" different. Always happens. Sounds like fun, good luck.
 
New Post
4/22/2016 10:34 PM
 
Since you mention the Teton Crest, I'll start with a couple of mountain ranges that are very similar. The Wind Rivers are just across the valley and you can do a crest hike along them. However, NOLS uses them as its own stomping ground most of the summer. I was at a trailhead (TH) in the Winds last summer with 20 cars in it. That sort of sight makes me shudder. It would still be wilder than the Teton Crest most likely. Another range that looks very similar is the Sangre De Cristos in Colorado. I've spent some time in them climbing up into alpine cirques (and one summit) but haven't tried to link together a crest hike. You'd have to get the maps out to see if that was possible. All of these three are long slender ranges of mountains that you can do a crest hike on. 

Personally, I tend to like high rolling country better than a slender spine. Or at least the idea of it. I still seem to do a lot of high angle travel. Less narrow country would also lend itself to going in and basecamping, which was one thing you mentioned. The value of base camping is that it gives you some slack from a fitness and acclimation standpoint. If you hike in and some members are too beat to do any more, you just spend time in your backcountry camp and side hike as fitness or acclimation allows. I'm HUGE on making backcountry plans on a just in time basis. It's easy to sit back in 3 different states and trace out what looks like an easy route on the map only to find out that ground truth is far different. 

Here's an example based on the picture I posted yesterday on IG that you responded to. There is a little wilderness area close to me that I hadn't been in before (more on WAs later). I needed some solo time, needed to shoot some product video on the new pack, and was *really* hoping to run across a bear or two for some video. I looked on 3 different map sources and pieced together a couple of different access points I could try for. I made it to my first choice but was mud bogging in the Cherokee by the time I got to the TH. 4 inches of wet snow on top of a bunch of mud. The trail was very steep and I wasn't sure I'd get far slip sliding my way along. I dropped over the edge to cut for sign. I saw a single elk trail but wasn't convinced there were many that high yet. Based on the poor trail conditions and my sense there weren't many critters about up there, I decided to drop down to the lower access point I'd found on the maps. Getting to that one was completely dry conditions, but required GPS to find the TH. And a high clearance 4wd rig. This trail was only half a mile to the river bottom, so it would make sense that I could drop to the river bottom and then follow the trail for several miles along the river back up into higher country where I might find some bears. Except it was 1000 vertical feet over a half mile to the river bottom. And what was indicated as a trail on the map wasn't a trail at all. Not even a game trail except in a couple of places. It was nothing more than a cliff-free off-trail route marked with cairns. And it was already early afternoon on the first warm day of the year. By the time I had climbed to the bottom, my hat was heavily crusted with salt and I was pretty bushed. Remember that we're only talking about a half a mile as the crow flies. I had seen a fair amount of deer and elk sign towards the canyon bottom and some very interesting canine sign. No evidence that any people had been down there ever really... other than the historic settler's cabin I found. Not actually a trail along the river (there couldn't be due to geography), no human tracks or signs of any type, no fire rings, no trails, etc. After resting up, I went upriver perhaps another half or three quarters of a mile as the crow flies, crossing many ridges and arroyos to do so. Then I started climbing up to a ridge coming down from the canyon wall where I'd have a good view of several areas I might see some critters. Was keeping an eye open for oak brush because bears spend time in there, but mostly figured I was out of luck on a bear as low down as I was. Although they'll spend time foraging along rivers too. I was sort of making fun of myself and my compunction to climb up to where I can see a lot of country before making camp. But I was seeing lots of elk sign and then looked up to see a bear making his way up a different ridgeline a couple hundred yards away. I made quick work of deploying my camera gear and getting the footage I wanted. Then I spent a pleasant evening and a couple of hours the next morning hanging out, shooting some more video (just posted one of the videos I got footage for this afternoon in fact), and soaking it in. Climbing back up out of the canyon yesterday morning felt a little bit like work and my quads are still sore from it. So there you have it - 24 hours on the trail (except I was never on a trail), maybe 3 miles roundtrip as the crow flies, nothing went the way I had planned it, lots of changes based on just in time decision making, and I really couldn't have hoped for a better spring canyon adventure. 

Right now I'm in the process of systematically working through my home wilderness area, but here's my trip planning process if I wasn't doing that -- identify wilderness areas I might be interested in (never national parks) based on online descriptions of those wilderness areas and also what it will take to get to them. Narrow down to one or two and start getting serious with maps, seeing if I can find a route that looks good. A route is a combination of trails and geographical features. Then more research, a couple backup plans, a call to the ranger district to gather some intel, and then I launch. A word on ranger districts -- a lot of the office staff are affirmative action hires and have no idea about their district beyond what the district website says. Keep asking questions. Eventually you'll end up with either the old gal who has worked there 20 years and knows the land better than her big shot outdoorsman husband, or they'll try to get you in contact with the field guy who actually knows whats up. Know that these people exist and if you don't end up talking to one of them, you're not actually getting any information at all out of the ranger district. 

Well that's a whole mouthful, but hopefully a good start for you. Scot's advice about focusing on Colorado to save travel for at least one of you is a good one. But really anywhere in the west. There are lots and lots of mountain ranges. 

We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
 
New Post
4/23/2016 10:17 AM
 
Boy Wonder wrote:
I might suggest looking at exploring a area. A 3-4 day hump could be just to experience a grand area for the first time, say Jewel Basin that is part of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Jewel Basin would give you a taste of the Bob. There will be other folks there, yes. But these folks are like minded folks. And you won't need a shuttle.

Where ever you three go, you will want to return and do "this or that" different. Always happens. Sounds like fun, good luck.

 

Thanks for the tip on the Bob Marshall Wilderness.  I'm adding it to my research.  I agree with you about just spending the time exploring an area.  Seems like no matter where we go we will have endless areas to explore.  I really appreciate you all sharing your input.

 
New Post
4/23/2016 10:22 AM
 
evanhill wrote:
Since you mention the Teton Crest, I'll start with a couple of mountain ranges that are very similar. The Wind Rivers are just across the valley and you can do a crest hike along them. However, NOLS uses them as its own stomping ground most of the summer. I was at a trailhead (TH) in the Winds last summer with 20 cars in it. That sort of sight makes me shudder. It would still be wilder than the Teton Crest most likely. Another range that looks very similar is the Sangre De Cristos in Colorado. I've spent some time in them climbing up into alpine cirques (and one summit) but haven't tried to link together a crest hike. You'd have to get the maps out to see if that was possible. All of these three are long slender ranges of mountains that you can do a crest hike on. 

Personally, I tend to like high rolling country better than a slender spine. Or at least the idea of it. I still seem to do a lot of high angle travel. Less narrow country would also lend itself to going in and basecamping, which was one thing you mentioned. The value of base camping is that it gives you some slack from a fitness and acclimation standpoint. If you hike in and some members are too beat to do any more, you just spend time in your backcountry camp and side hike as fitness or acclimation allows. I'm HUGE on making backcountry plans on a just in time basis. It's easy to sit back in 3 different states and trace out what looks like an easy route on the map only to find out that ground truth is far different. 

Here's an example based on the picture I posted yesterday on IG that you responded to. There is a little wilderness area close to me that I hadn't been in before (more on WAs later). I needed some solo time, needed to shoot some product video on the new pack, and was *really* hoping to run across a bear or two for some video. I looked on 3 different map sources and pieced together a couple of different access points I could try for. I made it to my first choice but was mud bogging in the Cherokee by the time I got to the TH. 4 inches of wet snow on top of a bunch of mud. The trail was very steep and I wasn't sure I'd get far slip sliding my way along. I dropped over the edge to cut for sign. I saw a single elk trail but wasn't convinced there were many that high yet. Based on the poor trail conditions and my sense there weren't many critters about up there, I decided to drop down to the lower access point I'd found on the maps. Getting to that one was completely dry conditions, but required GPS to find the TH. And a high clearance 4wd rig. This trail was only half a mile to the river bottom, so it would make sense that I could drop to the river bottom and then follow the trail for several miles along the river back up into higher country where I might find some bears. Except it was 1000 vertical feet over a half mile to the river bottom. And what was indicated as a trail on the map wasn't a trail at all. Not even a game trail except in a couple of places. It was nothing more than a cliff-free off-trail route marked with cairns. And it was already early afternoon on the first warm day of the year. By the time I had climbed to the bottom, my hat was heavily crusted with salt and I was pretty bushed. Remember that we're only talking about a half a mile as the crow flies. I had seen a fair amount of deer and elk sign towards the canyon bottom and some very interesting canine sign. No evidence that any people had been down there ever really... other than the historic settler's cabin I found. Not actually a trail along the river (there couldn't be due to geography), no human tracks or signs of any type, no fire rings, no trails, etc. After resting up, I went upriver perhaps another half or three quarters of a mile as the crow flies, crossing many ridges and arroyos to do so. Then I started climbing up to a ridge coming down from the canyon wall where I'd have a good view of several areas I might see some critters. Was keeping an eye open for oak brush because bears spend time in there, but mostly figured I was out of luck on a bear as low down as I was. Although they'll spend time foraging along rivers too. I was sort of making fun of myself and my compunction to climb up to where I can see a lot of country before making camp. But I was seeing lots of elk sign and then looked up to see a bear making his way up a different ridgeline a couple hundred yards away. I made quick work of deploying my camera gear and getting the footage I wanted. Then I spent a pleasant evening and a couple of hours the next morning hanging out, shooting some more video (just posted one of the videos I got footage for this afternoon in fact), and soaking it in. Climbing back up out of the canyon yesterday morning felt a little bit like work and my quads are still sore from it. So there you have it - 24 hours on the trail (except I was never on a trail), maybe 3 miles roundtrip as the crow flies, nothing went the way I had planned it, lots of changes based on just in time decision making, and I really couldn't have hoped for a better spring canyon adventure. 

Right now I'm in the process of systematically working through my home wilderness area, but here's my trip planning process if I wasn't doing that -- identify wilderness areas I might be interested in (never national parks) based on online descriptions of those wilderness areas and also what it will take to get to them. Narrow down to one or two and start getting serious with maps, seeing if I can find a route that looks good. A route is a combination of trails and geographical features. Then more research, a couple backup plans, a call to the ranger district to gather some intel, and then I launch. A word on ranger districts -- a lot of the office staff are affirmative action hires and have no idea about their district beyond what the district website says. Keep asking questions. Eventually you'll end up with either the old gal who has worked there 20 years and knows the land better than her big shot outdoorsman husband, or they'll try to get you in contact with the field guy who actually knows whats up. Know that these people exist and if you don't end up talking to one of them, you're not actually getting any information at all out of the ranger district. 

Well that's a whole mouthful, but hopefully a good start for you. Scot's advice about focusing on Colorado to save travel for at least one of you is a good one. But really anywhere in the west. There are lots and lots of mountain ranges. 

 

Thanks Evan, you make a valid point about the values of setting up a basecamp area and spoking out from there.  I appreciate you sharing your planning process, the more I research the more hole I find in my initial approach.  I'm learning a lot though as I go through different options.  I think my group needs to decide on a state to narrow down the options before we can get serious about doing any proper planning.  I'm going to try to get them to chime in on specific areas and then we will go from there.  If anyone else has any ideas, suggestions, or thought please do feel free to share them and I'll keep this alive as we progress through the stages.  Seems like we had some ambitious goals initially given our timeline.  Thanks again all!

 
New Post
4/23/2016 11:14 AM
 
GrayTshirt wrote:
Boy Wonder wrote:
I might suggest looking at exploring a area. A 3-4 day hump could be just to experience a grand area for the first time, say Jewel Basin that is part of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Jewel Basin would give you a taste of the Bob. There will be other folks there, yes. But these folks are like minded folks. And you won't need a shuttle.

Where ever you three go, you will want to return and do "this or that" different. Always happens. Sounds like fun, good luck.

 

Thanks for the tip on the Bob Marshall Wilderness.  I'm adding it to my research.  I agree with you about just spending the time exploring an area.  Seems like no matter where we go we will have endless areas to explore.  I really appreciate you all sharing your input.

 Walking in to see the Chinese Wall on the east side of the Bob is an awesome trip.  Two days if you can do 20+/day, four days in and back would be my preference. 

 
New Post
4/25/2016 9:52 PM
 
I've spent a decent bit of time in and around the Routt National Forest and Zirkels Wilderness area, both near Steamboat Springs, CO. Both have lots of options for backpacking and camping. I spent 4 days hiking through the Zirkels a few years ago and it's some amazing country up there! There's several ways to get into the area that can offer various levels of seclusion as well as exertion to get in. There's an area on the north end of the Zirkels that I'd love to go back and explore some more. Not many people get out that way and it's absolutely beautiful.

"Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children."
 
New Post
5/29/2016 7:18 PM
 
GrayTshirt

So were did you cat's decide to go? Just curious.
Boy Wonder
 
New Post
6/11/2016 4:37 PM
 
Boy Wonder wrote:
GrayTshirt

So were did you cat's decide to go? Just curious.
Boy Wonder

We're looking at the Zirkels, but my timeline is pushed back due to being "voluntold" for some stuff at work.  It's looking now like it will most likely be September before I can get to CO.  My buddy in Denver is able to do a trip whenever and my buddy in CA says the later in the summer the better for him.  I've been really busy with work and will most likely get read up on what the coming months will bring my way this coming week.  I've been thinking about this trip a lot, mostly because it will bring me together with two of my best friends and that doesn't happen often.

 
New Post
6/17/2016 3:23 PM
 
September in Colorado is prime. The week or two between archery season and first rifle season is my favorite time of the year in CO.

We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
 
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