First off; let me just say that although there are lots of destinations left in the Uintas that I want to see, I want to break from them and do something else. But just for the sake of completion and because I like lists, here's the highpoints of what I still want to do:
- Middle, West and Amethyst basins as a single trip, about a week, about 4 days.
- See Naturalist and Rock Creek basins a bit more. 3 days.
- Allsop and Priord Lakes basins. 2-3 days.
- Henry's Fork Basin and Kings Peak summit. 2-3 days.
- "Western Uintas" including Notch Mountain, Ibantek Lake, etc. 2 days, probably.
That's probably two more trips, where I can combine bullet points there and see it all in another two summers, assuming my backpacking trips remain somewhere between a week and two weeks, like they most likely will. But again; I'm ready to try something new.
Constraints: I've already got some plans for next year that I have to work around. I'll have to take the week around July 4th off again, and will probably use that for a family trip with my folks and my son. My older son comes back from Ecuador and then he and my daughter will be off for college. Although my wife is much more likely to take them and leave me to ferry the younger boys to and from their various destinations here locally, we are planning a big family trip--probably another week--in late July or early August. This means that I've only got two weeks of vacation left to play with, and that presumes nothing else comes up that would warrant me spending time off, and it also means that much of July and August is already booked, and I can't have two consecutive vacations, I'm afraid. That leaves me looking at either shoulder seasons, or somewhere where the hiking season is not quite the same as your typical Rocky Mountain destination.
Actually, a mid-September trip with golden aspens sounds really fun. So that's a possibility. Otherwise, I'm looking at trying my hand at a desert trip, which I haven't done for a while.
Here's the round-up of potential trips that I'd be more or less likely to do for 2016.
- Try out Cortez, Colorado. I can see Mesa Verde for a couple of days, and then head into the La Plata Mountains, which are nearby. This would probably best be done in September.
- The Four Pass Loop in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness outside Aspen, CO. This would again have to be a September trip.
- I could also potentially see a bunch of Wasatch Mountain destinations in Utah in September. I could even crash in between destinations with family or friends, possibly--this is the least wildernessy experience of them all, but it has its attractions. I could get to Lake Blanche, I could summit Timpanogos, I could summit maybe Mount Olympus, or at least explore it, I could summit Mount Nebo, etc. This could also be combined with any number of other Utah day-hiking or shorter trip destinations; I could explore the La Sals or the Henrys while I'm at it too. This has a lot of attractions, but would likely be the most expensive option, because it would involve more driving around and more nights in hotels, most likely.
- If I get a really early start on things, I could do Big Bend National Park in February. I doubt I'll be ready to roll again that early, but you never know.
- I could also go in March and/or April to various desert or semi-desert locations -- the Grand Canyon, Coyote Gulch + some Arches or Canyonlands stuff or Palo Duro Canyon + Caprock Canyon. This could also be done in the fall; October or even November.
- An October traverse of the Roans Highland section of the AT, plus some exploration of Shining Rock Wilderness would be a major change of pace from the Rockies, and would be fun. And the timing isn't bad for me in 2016.
Of that list, the September mountain trips are the most appealing to me, but again, timing might be tricky. Second are the March/April or October/November desert trips.
In 2017, I may have other constraints that I don't know of yet, but with two kids going to school in Eastern Idaho (most likely) that opens up the opportunity to take advantage of a visit to them to also hit up the Shoals Loop in the Gros Ventre Mountains and the Teton Crest Trail, another very highly desired destination of mine.