Hello Everyone! I’m really excited to announce my plans for 2015. This plan has been stewing in my mind even before I started the Appalachian Trail last year and is still taking form. I’m more excited about this upcoming season than I’ve been about any other so far. Many trails are on the never ending list of future adventures, but I honestly don’t have a grand plan and I have no idea what I’d like to do in 2016. What I do know is that I’m very fortunate that the combination of my simple living, working tons when I am home, and saving every dime my first 10yrs out of college allows me to hike 4-6 months each year if I like. Those of you that have followed these past years know I take a great deal of pride in knowing I’ve earned each one of these hikes with years of personal hard work, focus, and drive. Hiking and sharing it with others currently gives me purpose in life, so I’m going to stick with it while the pocketbook and body still allows it. Right now, these are the trails I dream about when I go to bed each night, so that’s where I’ll be heading.
I know the excitement of the Triple Crown is over and that many followers may move on to other blogs that focus on more popular local trails, but I hope people still stick around to see where my path may lead. I’m here to share this incredible journey and I’m just as interested to see where it leads as you are! These trails I’m going to mention may be ones you’ve never heard of, but they are the next step for me as I seek challenges that will help me to grow as a person and backpacker. Many of you will read these descriptions and worry about the remoteness, terrain, and the lack of “trail” (much of this summer will be on backcountry cross-country routes) of these hikes, but have no fear. I’ve done a lot of research and feel that these trails are within my safety limits while still pushing me outside my comfort zone just enough to take that step to the next level.
I am going to give a brief introduction to the trails right now so everyone can take all this in, and in the coming months, I’ll break it down into more detail so people can really get a feel for each individual trail and my planning process. Dates will be fluid as much relies on weather and snow pack levels for some of these. You’ll notice mileages are low, but that is because I will be doing much lower mileage days with navigation and terrain challenges on the two big trails. So far, the plan is to go solo unless a good fit presents itself. These trails are rarely traveled as complete thrus, but are gaining popularity with a handful to a dozen people attempting each of them in the past year. With the remoteness of these trails, I am considering upgrading from my SPOT locator device to the DeLorme InReach which allows two way communication if I find myself alone in an emergency situation. I’m still in the early planning of figuring out transportation, trail towns, and resupplies, so if anyone lives near these trails and would like to help out or provide some trail magic (or wifi!) along the way, email, me! Here we go…
1) April & May: Hayduke Trail (~800mi)
2) June: Tahoe Rim Trail (165mi)
3) June: Hopefully a few days of the CDT in the Bob Marshall Wilderness where there was a fire reroute in 2013 and I missed seeing the grandness of the Chinese Wall.
4) July & August: Great Divide Trail (~750mi)
|Map courtesy of hayduketrail.org|
I find this trail to be equally intimidating as exhilarating. The Hayduke Trail (HDT) is an ~800mi route that connects six national parks along the dry, remote, isolated, and undeveloped Utah/Arizona border. I will be on developed trails for a small portion of this hike when it does enter the more touristy parts of the parks, but most of my travel will be a combination of cross country through washes, canyons, roads, and jeep roads. I will be starting at Arches National park by the beginning of April and will hike west for two months connecting through the national parks of Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Glen Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Grand Canyon, and Zion. This photo gallery to gives and idea of the amazing scenery.
Many of those that have done the HDT in its entirety have described it as one of the most EPIC and CHALLENGING things they’ve ever done. It will definitely be a challenge for me and one that I openly admit, I may not complete, but I want to try something I might not complete. I’m taking the approach that I did on the PCT in 2011 on the record high snow year. I want to at least walk up to it and give it a try. I’ve found that much of the intimidation with unknowns are quickly dispelled if I am prepared and just try it for myself. Ideally, I’d have a partner for this one as it has many risks with the lack of water, remoteness, and periodically sketchy scrambling, but I am comfortable with knowing my ability and where my limits are. More details to come, but the hayduketrail.org site is great for those interested in reading more.
|Map courtesy of Mt Diablo Summit Runner|
Tahoe Rim Trail
The Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT) will be a much welcomed change of pace and scenery after the Hayduke Trail. It’s a frequently traveled (even open to mountain bikers) and well blazed trail that is 165mi around Lake Tahoe. It also overlaps with the PCT for about 50 miles. Depending on the timing of the HDT and the GDT, I will have a significant gap for much of the month of June, so this one will be a nice way to fill a week between trails. When I do the TRT exactly will depend on snowpack and how I’m feeling. Part of me would like to do it immediately following the HDT, since it would be on the way home from Zion to Portland (and my mom lives in the Bay Area), but it may not be cleared of snow enough until later in June. I’m going to play it by ear as if it’s a high snow year, I’d also be interested in the option of returning home for a couple weeks of work (as a substitute teacher) at the end of the school year. This is a popular west coast trail and it will be nice to fit it in during the gap. I’m also open to other June ventures that may pop up impulsively.
|Map courtesty of the GDT Association|
Great Divide Trail
I’ve never been more excited about a trail as I am about the Great Divide Trail! The GDT is the continuation of the Continental Divide Trail, ~800mi into Canada. It follows the Continental Divide along the border of British Columbia and Albera, starting where the CDT ends at Waterton National Park, and going north through Banff and Jasper National Parks to finish at Kakwa Provincial Park. Like the HDT, it is more of a route than a trail that is rarely done fully as a complete thru, but is gaining popularity.
It’s a trail that is often described as spectacular, stunning, and epic. I’ve wanted to do it since I finished the CDT in 2013 and experienced the grandness of Glacier National Park. Little has been documented for the public by previous thrus. Apparently, just this past season, a thru hiker posted the first detailed online daily journal of a complete GDT thru hike. The trail should take about two months to complete and there is a short window of opportunity (usually in July and August) to dodge snow covered trails so far north. Again, more details to come as the date approaches, but the GDTA has a nice website at greatdividetrail.com.