The moment has come and the decision made. It’s now or potentially never. Summer 2016, I’ll be venturing out on a month-long backpacking trip. I’m very excited about this decision, and the timing is right. Now, before kids come into the picture and while the motivation is strong. Yes, I can and will keep in shape over the years and plan to do a lot of hiking after the kids are out of the house, but it’s impossible to say what will happen 20 some years from now. So, I plan to live today, unsure of what tomorrow brings.
So, with the decision made, I’m now open for destination suggestions. But first, let’s take a look at the requirements. Like any project, a trip as ambitious as this requires a good requirements document. So here they are:
1. Epic beauty
I’m talking Sierra Nevada’s beautiful, Mount Rainier spectacular. I’m looking for the Alps, for Patagonia. For something so epic it will knock my socks off. The Appalachian Trail (AT) does not appeal to me (sorry for all you AT hikers). I want to find the moonscape lands of high alpine peaks. I want to explore the delicate wildflowers in the sub-alpine meadows. I wand to find lakes that are gripping onto the side of mountains.
2. At least 4 weeks (28 days)
Yes, I said epic. I want to be on the trail for a full month. Well, at least a full February-like month. I’m open to more. There will be food drops, I don’t plan on carrying a months worth of food from day 1. But, I want to be out on the trail for 28 days straight or more.
3. Averaging 10–12 miles a day
I want to get some distance under my feet. I like some time for R&R and the unexpected. But, I want to move. I’m not a through hiker: 20–30 miles a day does not sound appealing. At least not straight down the trail. I’m an explorer, a meditator, an enjoyer. Many of my favorite Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) hikes in Washington involve leaving the PCT.
4. Safely and logistically possible to solo
Although I invite and welcome travel companions, I can’t rely on them to make this trip happen. It’s happening for me next year, whether they are ready or not. So it needs to be something I can do solo if need be.
5. Not in Washington
I can reach most places in Washington for shorter trips. I’ve done large chunks of the Washington PCT already. I’m looking for something new. New scenery, new places, and somewhere I cannot access in my regular schedule. If I’m out for a month, let’s make it worth it!
6. Food Drops
No, I have no desire to carry a month worth of food in one go. I plan to have food drops at least every week, so wherever I go, I need to be able to mail food to myself.
So, what am I looking for? Here are the hikes already on my list of possibilities. I haven’t ventured too far from home yet, but I’m open to things both in and out of the US.
|The John Muir Trail||At 210 miles, this is a little short for what I’m looking to do, but perhaps some combination of side trips and/or an extension down more of the PCT would make a hike in this area perfect.|
|Sierra High Route||Going through the same chunk of country as the John Muir Trail, this takes the less traveled path through the Sierra Nevada’s in a combination of off trail and unmaintained trail travel. It’s also a little short for my interests.|
|The Colorado Trail||Although I’ve hiked a lot in Colorado, it’s been a long time, and the Colorado Trail was long on my list of wants. 500 miles may be longer than I want to go, but a chunk can always be carved.|
|The Pacific Northwest Trail||Running East-West along the US-Canada border, this hike looks to have some epic vistas. To meet rule #5, I’d have to start east of the Idaho border, and even that may still be a little too close to home.|
|Hello Alaska?||The Alaskan wilderness has always intrigued me. I’ve been to Alaska only once, and there was simply not enough hiking involved. I have only just begun to research destinations in Alaska, but I did find the tale of a 33-day excursion in the Wrangell St Elias National Park that intrigued me to say the least. Their particular trip is not realistic for a solo hike (glacier travel without a rope team is not a good idea). But, with some more research, perhaps a solo-safe route will appear.|
So, you see what I’m looking for, let the suggestions pour in! What places have you been that would be epic month-long hikes for my Summer 2016 Expedition?