Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Backpacking bucket list, take 2

I had earlier made a list of hikes that I was interested in.  That was retroactively dubbed my Backcountry Bucket List.  Here's the updated version, with some commentary.  A lot of these hikes are based on itineraries highlighted in Peter Potterfield's books, and may be subject to modification once I sit down to actually plan them.
  • John Muir Trail: 220 miles, 18-24 days, through Yosemite Nat Park, Ansel Adams and John Muir Wilderness, and King's Canyon and Sequoia Nat Parks.  The longest single trail that I would consider doing as a single, non-stop trip.  Will require nearly a month to do and several resupply stops.  To be honest, what is more likely is a trip to Yosemite Valley and Mount Whitney, combined with the Rae Lakes Loop (see below) and a short trip from Devil's Postpile to the Thousand Island Lake area.  That way I get the John Muir trail experience (at least in terms of scenery) without having to commit an entire month to the venture, or to walk over 200 miles in one go.  And I still get to see most of the highlights of the trail.
  • Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim: 44 miles, 5-7 days.  A combination of two routes in Peter Potterfield's books.  A fall or spring hike, which doesn't impinge on the mountain season, which makes it nice too.  Best done in mid October through mid November, or mid March through mid April.
  • Chesler Park: 15 miles, 3-5 days, in Canyonlands Nat Park.  Lots of other day trip options in the area as well.  This is a lazy, sight-seeing pace, which is fine by me.  Tons of day-hiking, or short overnighters in the Moab area to fill out the corners and make this a real gem of a trip.
  • Maroon Bell's Circuit: 27 miles, 4-5 days, in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness near Aspen, CO.
  • Buckskin Gulch: 24 miles (3-4 days) in the Pariah Wilderness.  Despite the desert setting, this is best done as a summer hike, when flash flood risks are a bit reduced.  Besides, I'll be out of the sun almost the entire time.
  • Wonderland Trail: 93 miles, 12-14 days, in Mt Rainier Nat Park.  Hard to get on due to quotas and lottery.  Also, weather conditions make this a difficult one to pull off.
  • White Mountain Traverse: 53 miles (6-8 days) on a northern portion of the Appalachian Trail.  Best done early summer, before the thru-hikers hit the area.
  • Coyote Gulch: 28 miles, 3-4 days in Grand Staircase-Escalante Nat Mon.  Love this area.  Did it as a teenager, and really want to go back and see it again.
  • Teton Crest Trail: 39 miles (with some variability depending on entrance and exit strategies.)  3-5 days.  I'd probably either hike up Granite Canyon and hike back out Paintbrush, or take the tram and hike out Paintbrush.  That all depends on my ability to get the backcountry camping permits I want, though--I may have to adjust the hike slightly.
  • Yosemite Grand Traverse: 60 miles (7-8 days.)  In the Ansel Adams Wilderness and Yosemite.  A kind of "mini JMT" even though it's still one of the longer hikes on this list.
  • Little Beaver-Big Beaver Loop: 35 miles (3-4 days) in the North Cascades.  I'm not as much of a Pacific NW guy (mostly because I think Seattle and Portland are such miserable places) but I do want to see their backcountry, and this looks like a good way to do it. 
  • The Enchantments: not yet mapped out, but this is a difficult hike to do in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, mostly because of permit issues.  Lots of destinations to see.  I would probably want to make this a 3-5 day hike and take my time.
  • Beartooth Traverse: 32 miles (3-5 days) through Montana's Beartooth Mountains.  I'll also drive through them this coming summer on the Beartooth Highway. 
  • Fish Canyon-Owl Canyon Loop: 17 miles through the Grand Gulch Primitive area in southern Utah, near Monticello.  Still relatively crowd free and offers much of what is best about Southern Utah.
  • Sawtooth Traverse: 28 miles--3-4 days in Idaho's Sawtooth.  The "traverse" is specifically referring to a Peter Potterfield agenda, but I'd probably pore over a map and make my own route.
  • Shoal Falls Loops: 19 miles in the Gros Ventres; this would be a great warm-up hike before the Teton Crest Trail!
  • Art Loeb Trail: 33 miles in the Shining Rock Wilderness and thereabouts.  Highly desireable in October for the fall color, although April would also be very nice. 
  • Mount Rushmore-Harney Peak Loop: 25 miles in the Black Elk Wilderness; this would be a relatively easy hike that doesn't have me traveling quite as far, and I can do it in the shoulder seasons.  Early summer (before snowmelt in the higher mountains) is probably ideal.  May or June.
  • High Uintas Basins-Utah Highline Trail: up to nearly 90 miles if I do the entire Highline trail; more likely half that, as I explore highlights of the Uintas.  Maybe even more than one trip.  I'd also love to summit King's Peak while I'm at it.
  • Mirror Lake and Eagle Cap: 30 miles in the Eagle Cap Wilderness of eastern Oregon.  An easy walk-up peak to boot.  Not yet well known on the major hiking circuit, so hopefully includes lots of solitude.
  • Rae Lakes Loop: Not much solitude on this 53 mile hike in King's Canyon Nat Park, which includes some of the highlights of the southern JMT.  Day hike or detours include Sicty Lake Basin, Vidette Meadows and Kearsarge Basin with the pinnacles.
  • Cirque of the Towers Loop: 20 miles from Big Sandy trailhead.  A heavily used but scenicly magnificent area.
  • Hobo Gulch to Grizzly and Papoose Lakes: about 45 miles in the Trinity Alps Wilderness.  Magnificent scenery.
  • South Rim Trail: 16 miles in Big Bend National Park.  Best done in the off-season: Jan or Feb.  Plus, lots of day hiking opportunities nearby to make an even bigger trip out of this.
  • Warner Mountain Loop: 45 miles in California's far northeastern corner.  Lower elevation makes for slightly longer season.

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