Jun 14, 2012 at 5:07 pm #1291040
@everreadyLocale: Sh!^^% Ohio
I think I finally have my daughter talked into a short backpacking trip. Now I just need to find a place to take her; someplace that isn't too high, too cold, too hot, too big, too small, has plentiful water and has wonderful scenery. I'm thinking a 30 mile loop would be great.
I've considered the Rae Lakes Loop in Kings Canyon but that is almost 12k at the pass. I've also considered some places in W.Va or Pa but they don't come close to the scenery out west. I'm thinking maybe the Tetons….
Anyplace in the continental US will do.
No, really, I'm serious.
AlJun 14, 2012 at 5:26 pm #1886997
Backpacker magazine had a recent article about Mt. Rainier (Wonderland Trail) and the trails around that area that may just fit what you were looking for – found the link – http://www.backpacker.com/2012-may-mount-rainier-adventure-guide-wonderland-trail/destinations/16492Jun 14, 2012 at 5:39 pm #1887000
@nel250Locale: San Francisco
Are you thinking National Parks where there is a little more control and rangers? Wilderness Land with a little more adventure.
By the looks of it you want maybe want to stick with a National Park. How about the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. Mild temps, not very high-elevation peaks at 6600 or so. Very pretty. Also pretty close to you
I have done the Tetons and they are beautiful! Elevations are pretty high there.
In the Sierras you can do lots of hiking while not doing a huge amount of elevation. If you are thinking the Sierras this site give you some great infoJun 14, 2012 at 6:08 pm #1887004
The Rae lakes loop is really not too challenging, especially if you take 6 or 7 days to do it. (Only 7 miles per day on average)
12k feet at glen pass is high, but if you take your time to get there it's not too bad, and the views are very rewarding.
Water is plentiful as well.Jun 14, 2012 at 6:34 pm #1887008
@everreadyLocale: Sh!^^% Ohio
I like the idea of the Wonderland trail. I've already been to the Tetons and to Kings Canyon. I've never been to Oregon though.
Thanks again for the input,
AlJun 14, 2012 at 7:51 pm #1887035
@hikinggrannyLocale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
The Wonderland Trail is about 90 miles with lots of horrendous ups and downs. It also requires reservations, and per the park it's full for the year. You might be able to get a last-minute permit when you show up, but you may be stuck with 20-mile gaps between the least desirable camping places. Mt. Rainier makes its own weather, and bad weather for at least part of the trip is quite likely. I wouldn't recommend it as a place to take beginners.
It appears that the many people who had to cancel their Wonderland Trail hikes last year due to the extremely late-melting snowpack are trying again this year!Jun 15, 2012 at 8:09 am #1887202
@richardglyonLocale: Bridger Mountains
Consider the Black Canyon of the Yellowstone, a 19-mile (from Hellroaring) point-to-point hike in Yellowstone NP, or the Bechler River Trail in YNP, 30 miles point-to-point. Both have spectacular scenery and great fishing, and are fairly easy hiking as each follows a river downstream. Black Canyon gives up snow early and this year will likely be OK early July. The Bechler Meadows can be soggy through July but this year should be available in August. Both require a shuttle.
RichardJun 15, 2012 at 10:35 am #1887237
@ewolinLocale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
"The Wonderland Trail is about 90 miles with lots of horrendous ups and downs."
I wouldn't call the ups-and-downs "horrendous." Yes, some days can involve a fair amount of elevation gain and loss, after all you are hiking around a big mountain. We took our time on the trail a few years ago, actually 13 nights (enjoyed every minute!), and elevation gain/loss was a non-issue.
I suppose if you do the same 90+ miles in a four days it might be an issue, but why race through paradise! I would recommend a minimum of 8 nights, 10 is even better, and we loved it at 13 nights. Clearly our goals had no mileage component; one day we only hiked 5 miles and spent a lovely afternoon lounging along a river, airing things out, washing, bird watching, navel-gazing, etc.Jun 15, 2012 at 11:16 am #1887250
@delvxeLocale: Pacific Northwest
As a Washingtonian, I feel compelled to point out that Rainier is in Washington, not Oregon. ;)
Lot's of shorter loop options including the popular Northern Loop Trail. Lots of elevation gain, though. Reservations are required, but i understand that they are not very difficult to secure. It IS difficult to secure a permit for the entire trail on any specific dates, but sections are quite a bit less competitive.Jun 15, 2012 at 11:32 am #1887253
@chadlLocale: Teton Valley, Wydaho
Cirque of the Towers, Wind River Range. Lots of on/off trail scrambling options, a bit crowded with climbers occasionally, but easy to stay off trails and avoid folks.Jun 15, 2012 at 12:03 pm #1887264
@daviddrakeLocale: North Idaho
I'll second the Northern Loop suggestion (Rainier NP). I've hiked it 3 or 4 times–never had problems getting a permit without reservation. Going mid-week helps. Part of the loop is on the WT, part is in a more remote corner of the park. In my view, the hike across Windy Gap (not part of the WT) is one of the best in the park.
Solitude won't be perfect, but I wouldn't call the Northern Loop crowded, at least not relative to some sections of the AT or (I presume) the more popular CA trails. Depending on day of the week, time of year, and portion of the trail, you might see only one or two other people per day while hiking the Northern Loop.
Sides trips could include hiking out into Grand Park and to the natural bridge near Windy Gap. Closeup views of glaciers (and of course, Mt. Rainier) are also a plus.
For a longer trip, you could make a figure-8 around Mother Mountain and the Northern Loop. My trip report on that route from last year is here:
Note last year was a big snow year–conditions this year should be somewhat different.
One of the nice things about Rainier, given your requirements, is the opportunity to get above timberline and experience alpine hiking without extreme elevation–less than 8K at the highest points for these hikes. Much of the Northern Loop is in Mt. Rainier's rainshadow, where weather *tends* to be drier and (in my experience) a bit more predictable. But Mary D. is right–the mountain makes its own weather, and anything can happen. For summer, highs will rarely break the low 70s but alpine/sub-alpine sun is intense. Rain might bring temps down to the low 40s (hypothermia risk). The designated campsites are all below treeline, but nights can get pretty cold. I've experienced light snow in mid-September.
One potential drawback: the Northern Loop is best accessed from Sunrise (east side), a bit of a drive from the Seattle area relative to Paradise.Jun 15, 2012 at 12:07 pm #1887266
I don't have an obvious destination to recommend, but I introduce friends to backpacking quite often and have some ideas about what has worked well vs. what has bombed.
What kind of shape is your daughter in?
You will get lots of suggestions from people that are FAR too ambitious. What I have noticed when taking a new person into the wilderness for the first time is that they are already so overwhelmed with things to get used to. It is not good to tack onto that: ambitious mileage; really intimidating climbs; overexposure to the elements. Even if that person is an athlete. Err closer to 5 miles/day vs. 10. You do not want your daughter to feel rushed, or as if she is being "marched" all day.
A layover day or two at a lake are great things to build in. On a layover day she can take a break from the pack, and be as athletic or as slothful as she wants. If she is up for it, you could teach her some off-trail exploring on the layover day.
People will make a lot of equipment and clothing mistakes their first time out no matter how well you prepare them. If I had a 7-9 day vacation with a newbie, I'd take that person to a destination that has a lot to see (such as a national park) and start with a 3-4 day backpacking trip. If she loves that first trip, you can regroup with her clothes/equipment and get a permit right away for a second 3-4 day trip. If she hated the backpacking and doesn't want to do it again, you can car-camp and enjoy the national park sites.
A 7-day trip is a lot of food weight to carry, a lot of nights out, and a LOT of days/nights she will be stuck with whatever gear is not working well for her.
It will be very, very hard to talk her out of taking certain things you know she won't actually need (3 sets of clothes; soap; etc.). People react out of fear when you tell them they do not need x and y, 3 liters of water ("in case I run out!"), a 10-oz. sunscreen, or twenty things to eat for lunch every day. I have found it is sometimes easier to let people make their own mistakes of carrying in too much; ask them at the end of the trip "What did you ACTUALLY use? How much did you ACTUALLY eat for lunch? See how much you carried out? Would you like to wear a pack that weighs closer to mine?" That is what will get her actually agree to ditch some unnecessary stuff – on the SECOND trip.
– ElizabethJun 15, 2012 at 12:59 pm #1887282
Elizabeth makes some very good points. I took my oldest daughter on her first backpacking trip when she was 15. Unfortunately it was my first trip in more than 25 years and our pack weights were, as I look back now, simply embarassing! After we had covered about five miles on the first day I looked back (I was leading because she hated eating spider webs) and she was marching along crying.
I stopped and asked what was wrong – "I really want to like this Daddy but I don't." We took off our packs, talked about it, changed our goal for the day, and ended up with a great trip.
My suggestion is to do something closer to home for your first trip and then to "dangle" a bigger trip out west if she likes it. If you've never been there, the West Rim Trail in PA (near Wellsboro) would be a great choice. It's roughly 30 miles and there's an outfitter who will shuttle your car from one end to the other for you. Depending on where you live in Ohio it might look very different from what you're used to…
PM me if you'd like more info or suggestions on other PA hikes.Jun 15, 2012 at 1:29 pm #1887294
My very first backpacking experience was the AT, beginning in Damascus, VA heading north. The path through Grayson Highlands with the wild horses is the memory maker and as a whole, a beautiful stroll through the woods. You can end up every night near a stream, a must for my own kids to enjoy the end of a day. Consider also the 26 mile loop from North Inlet near Grand Lake, RMNP, across Flat Top Mtn. Take it over 2-3 nights and will be wonderful. We saw moose and elk and the day above tree line is very cool for a first timer.Jun 15, 2012 at 2:08 pm #1887300
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
I don't like Mount Rainier or popular areas in Olympic National Park because they're too popular – too many permits, too many other people,…
Around Three Sisters in central Oregon is pretty nice. 50 miles, although if you go between the South and Middle Sisters you can make it 35 miles. Fairly easy river crossings. Some of the best alpine scenery. Straightforward trail, except between the South and Middle Sisters which is pretty adventurous.Jun 15, 2012 at 2:16 pm #1887306
@hikinggrannyLocale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
I'd agree with Jerry on that one!Jun 16, 2012 at 11:04 pm #1887635
@nel250Locale: San Francisco
100% agree withe Elizabeth. I have also introduced a bunch of people to backpacking and everything she said is true. I usually end up packing super light so I can carry most of the gear because the first timers are weighted down by excess stuff they "think they need"
I would try to pick a place closer to home for the first time. Once your daughter has the basics take her on a more epic trip. Comfort is a must for a newbie to.Jun 17, 2012 at 8:55 pm #1887821
Also being from Ohio, I got started with backpacking in the Smoky Mountains. Only you know your daughter but I can think of a few things that may help her ease into it:
If she is new to hiking and camping, how about staying the first night at one of the drive in campgrounds when you get there (such as Elkmont or Cades Cove)? Maybe some dayhikes the first day there (Chimney tops and Alum Cave?) to start out the trip good.
How comfortable would she be in shelters? Some of them are nice, others seem to be rather icky. Would she be fine with sharing the space with up to 10 other people?
Maybe a loop that has a night or two at campsites and one shelter stay would be a good introduction. Try to include a section that offers an excellent view (like Mt. Cammerer or Rocky Top).
Spend the last night in Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge, get cleaned up, have a nice dinner (recommend the Old Mill) and get some good sleep before driving home.
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