Nov 17, 2006 at 8:00 pm #1220291
In several forums posts I have seen the recurrent tension between “going” backpacking and “gearing up” for backpacking. Many members seem very interested in more content about trips and technnique.
About a year ago Ryan and I discussed the idea of a countrywide index of backpacking trips on this site. I envision a state/region organizational pattern that would be searchable by state/region, trip length, best season, point to point vs loop, cross country, and rating. It would also have a brief trip description which could include available maps and guide books if applicable.
Members could post their favorite trips and all of us could benefit. I’ve certainly enjoyed traveling outside of my home region (the Sierra) but don’t have a lot of information on places I’d like to visit–Olympics, Pasayten Wilderness, Death Valley (in winter). I’d love to benefit from our members experience to plan trips to new areas. I’m especially excited to get to new areas after the unique experience Andy Skurka and I had in Yellowstone last September. (Article pending)
Is this something that anyone is intersted in? How many of you would contribute trips?Nov 17, 2006 at 8:33 pm #1367529
@scottalanpLocale: Northern California
I would be most interested! While I could not contribute routes that focused on high-mileage, extended time type trips, I have been to many locations and would like to contribute knowledge for anyone else who is seeking a particular destination. Likewise, I would love to have an index of trip reports from the folks here.
The way I see it, you have some of the most experienced and intelligent backcountry people in the country who spend time on this site. I cannot think of anyone better to ask about a trip to Glacier or the Bitteroots than someone who is like minded in their approach and who lives near them. And like you Kevin (I actually grew up in the area you live now), I have spent plenty of time in the Sierra’s and Northern California.
My two (rather gutless in comparison to some here) goals would be to backpack outside my home state once a year, as well as segment hike the PCT before I am gone. Any extra motivation provided by trip reports from the good folks here would be superb.Nov 19, 2006 at 9:28 pm #1367677
This list would have trip lengths of any distance, be searchable by multiple criteria. There should be nothing exclusive about it. A 100 mile trip might be a 7-10 days for one person and 2-3 for another. It’s getting the data out there and encouraging us to get out there that’s important.
I know the Sierra like my morning toast and have really enjoyed getting out of state. A “one trip per year” out of state goal is a laudable one.
Let’s see if we can generate enough interest to make this happen.Nov 19, 2006 at 9:58 pm #1367680
Eric NobleBPL Member
@ericnobleLocale: Colorado Rockies
I am very interested. This site has made it easy to focus on gear. Your idea could bring a better balance to the site. I only have so much free time, this would help me make the most of it. I would be happy to contribute trips.Nov 22, 2006 at 4:51 am #1367974
Marion Watts JrBPL Member
I could take care of southern Ohio. This is a great idea!Nov 22, 2006 at 5:49 am #1367979
David ChamberlainBPL Member
I can post some trails in GA and eastern Alabama.
Dave CNov 22, 2006 at 6:11 am #1367980
Carol CrookerBPL Member
@cmcrookerLocale: Desert Southwest, USA
I love this idea. I usally try to get in a backpacking trip whenever I fly anywhere. The research can sometimes be intensive trying to find a good place to backpack in unfamiliar territory.
I can add some good info on my home turf – AZ.Nov 22, 2006 at 6:41 am #1367986
…as long as you don’t expect long naratives. Something with several photos and supporting text would be great. Heck even, photos with captions would be fine.
Here’s one I did for a trip to Oly NP this past summer (Quinault –> Elwha via skyline trail).Nov 22, 2006 at 6:52 am #1367990
@dksmithfamlyLocale: South Texas
I’m new to BPL, but think that having a nationwide trip list is a great idea. I’d like to post a trip report or two of treks to the Weminuche in Colorado and a more recent trip to the Sawtooths in Idaho. Plus, I’d benefit from reading others’ reports of areas I’d like to visit.Nov 22, 2006 at 7:15 am #1367994
David StenbergBPL Member
This is a great idea and could be a lot fun finding out about new places in differnt regions. I am from Western TN and could help out there.Nov 22, 2006 at 7:51 am #1368002
Mark W HeningerMember
@heningerLocale: Pacific Northwest
Yes, I’d be happy to support this.
I’d love to see it come to live as several useful things at once: a trail description (location, access, turn by turn), a gear list (what I took,why), a trip report (my experiences), trail collateral (Maps, GPS coordinates, permit links, Motion Based routes) and last of all photo repository.
That would make it really useful. I generally submit a trail report with most of these things, so a structured locale for this with an easy semi-structured UI for adding all of the above would just be very cool.
Count me in.Nov 22, 2006 at 8:22 am #1368005
Sam HaraldsonBPL Member
@sharaldsLocale: Gallatin Range
There is a definite need for a definitive collection of this type of data. I tried out a free-trial to Trails.com but it was a little lacking as it was focused more on casual day-hikers than on backpackers.
I would happily provide loads of information regarding Glacier National Park as well as the trails of Northern Minnesota.
BPL has a strong gear focus and needs the “we actually get out and get after it” side of things covered as well.Nov 22, 2006 at 8:26 am #1368006
Douglas FrickBPL Member
>Here’s one I did for a trip to Oly NP this past summer (Quinault –> Elwha via skyline trail).
Tony: I was up at the Low Divide at the same time, with my brother and brother-in-law and their kids. Thanks for sharing the pix.Nov 22, 2006 at 9:07 am #1368012
In response to “so long as you don’t need a long narrative”:
The format would be to have a few standard entry fields so the information important to potential users of the trail/route is available. Required information would only include region, trip length, loop vs point to point, and trailhead. Some general description of the route would be necessary. This would be enough to make the information useful.
There would be optional information fields that might include elevation gain, maps, best season, permit and regulation information (like bear canister required or must camp in designated camps), web links to area (forest service/national park sites), directions to trailhead, other transportation information (especially for a point to point route), and possibly GPS coordinates (probabaly optionally included in the route description). No detailed description would be required, but as much information could be included as an individual wanted. Pictures could probably also be included.
Would there be any other information that would be helpful? I want to make the system easy to use so don’t want to REQUIRE entering anything but the most essential information, but want to ALLOW as much information to be entered as would entice a reader to GO!Nov 22, 2006 at 9:09 am #1368014
Great Idea gang. I’d be happy to make specific notes each time I go out and share them with everyone. Perhaps the management team at BPL could establish a fixed format so there would always be cetain key info on each trip report, and so that there wouldn’t be too many reports that have excess info. I live near the southern teminus of the PCT so I coud easily report on the first 200-300 miles of it, plus San Jacinto, San Gorgonio, and lots of So Cal stuff.
Mike MaurerNov 22, 2006 at 10:55 am #1368029
@mitchellkeilLocale: Deep in the OC
I second Mike’s concept of a format for our trail guide/reports. That way we make sure that all of the pertinent info is presented in a way that allows for comparisons and evaluations of the trip for appropriate levels of skill, experience and desired outcomes. I, too, have used Trails.com and found it wanting. Most of the time it merely serves to excerpt a trail description from a published trail book. Often these books have different audiences for and methodology in presenting a trail. Simply looking online for trail journal entries for a particular area often returns a more personal entry and not a real trail guide.
If we had a format then when we each venture out on a trail (or cross country trailess outing) we would have a means of recording what would be needed for such a database. Despite the oft expressed disdain for GPS use on this site, it would seem worthwhile to include GPS waypoints as well in such trail guides.Nov 22, 2006 at 11:55 am #1368046
Eric NobleBPL Member
@ericnobleLocale: Colorado Rockies
A couple of questions that need answers. Is this only available to members? Is this a separate BPL service? Some people might not provide a report if they felt it was available to the whole world.Nov 22, 2006 at 11:56 am #1368048
Nikolas AndersenBPL Member
Would be happy to add pictures and words from Scotland & Wales, hopefully soon Lappland and maybe the Faeroe Islands with time!
Format and some sort of map (or map sketches) would indeed be good.Nov 22, 2006 at 12:00 pm #1368050
Kevin BabioneBPL Member
Perhaps you could partner with LocalHikes.com – he’s already got a great format that sounds like it would meet the needs of the others who have posted replies to this. One change that we might want to request of LocalHikes.com (which consists mostly of dayhikes) would be to add a field that describes the hike as “Overnight” or “Day”.Nov 22, 2006 at 12:54 pm #1368062
Tom ClarkBPL Member
@tomclarkLocale: East Coast
I also agree with Mike’s suggestion. Maybe include a link to separate trip reporst so some people can quickly scan a uniform format, while others can dig deeper and take advantage of a full report and photos.Nov 22, 2006 at 1:35 pm #1368067
@david_bonnLocale: North Cascades
This is an idea that has merit. I’d probably contribute a bit of information.
For many of my trips, the most useful information would have been on getting to and from the trailhead. Pointers to shuttle and taxi services for various places would be as valuable as actual trip reports.
Yes, you could rent a car. I’m kind of allergic to leaving cars at trailheads anymore. The story about the guy who is being hit for $20/day because his rental car is trapped in the upper Hoh River (in the Olympics) because the road is washed out is yet another deterrent. And most rental car companies aren’t cool with taking their vehicles on the kinds of roads that get you to interesting hiking.
Also, if you are traveling with more stuff than just what you’d carry hiking, pointers to where you can stash gear while on the walk would be very cool. (Free tidbit: I know there are lockers available at the Denali Park Ranger Station, and that’s a lot more secure than the bear closet at the nearby hiker campground).
I’ve a couple of questions: first, how are you going to maintain any kind of consistency in trip descriptions? (One person’s easy trip might be insanely challenging and dangerous for another, and less capable, less experienced hikers by definition have the least ability to judge their relative abilities) Second, will there be some kind of template for describing trips, or will it be a free-form system? Third, can more than one person submit the same trip or should there be some framework where any giving “hike” can have multiple contributors?Nov 22, 2006 at 1:43 pm #1368069
@waterloggedwelliesLocale: United Kingdom
This is a great idea and certainly something I would use. Anything that helps the sites users to exchange information and pass on experiences is welcomed. So yes please!!!Nov 22, 2006 at 2:25 pm #1368077
Miles BargerBPL Member
@milesbargerLocale: West Virginia
This is a wonderful idea. I’ve often looked for a database of this sort, especially for areas of the country that have sparse coverage of hiking opportunities for more “serious” backpackers, i.e. Kentucky.
I would love to help. I could post information from Kentucky, Tennessee, and the surrounding area, as well as Yellowstone, where I worked for three months.
Would this section be simply a list of posts only editable by the creator? I think that a wiki-ish format could be very useful for this kind of database, i.e. information could be built up from the experiences of and edited by any member who has made the same trip.Nov 22, 2006 at 2:25 pm #1368078
Thanks for your comments Eric. None of those decisions have been made yet. This is still very preliminary, but there does seem to be interest. I envision it as intrinsic to the BPL subscription (ie no separate fee).
As to whether it would be available to the public I’d say probably subscribers only at this point. Perhaps non-subscribers could access a general listing without details so the database might encourage them to join. I’ll leave that question to Ryan.
As to David’s questions: “I’ve a couple of questions: first, how are you going to maintain any kind of consistency in trip descriptions?”
I think the distance/elevation data would let a person decide how many days a trip should take.
“Second, will there be some kind of template for describing trips, or will it be a free-form system?”
As described in an earlier post, there would be required entry fields for some of the data, optional fields for other data, and a narrative section for as short/long of description as needed. We would need uniform input for some of the data so it could be searched by criteria. However I don’t want to make it a hassle to enter trips. There’s a balance involved–get enough information to be useful, not require so much it doesn’t get used.
” Third, can more than one person submit the same trip or should there be some framework where any giving “hike” can have multiple contributors?”
I like Miles’ idea of an open system where trips can be edited by anyone who has done the trip–perhaps subject to the approval of the original author. I’d have to defer to Ryan on what is technically possible.
It probably doesn’t make sense to have 6 John Muir trail or 5 Colorado trail reports (plus these trails as well as the PCT/AT have pretty good guide books available anyhow).Nov 22, 2006 at 2:51 pm #1368085
Thanks for Kevin Babione pointing me to LocalHikes.com. It’s a good format for what they do. I’ve reviewed a few of the hikes in my local area that I am familiar with. They are all day hikes with fairly short distances. I didn’t see any trips of a suitable distance or in a suitable area (ie no camping) for backpacking. They don’t seem to cover any of the high mountain areas of California.
The format is OK for what they do, but I’d like to be able to search by area, trip length, elevation gain among other criteria. This would allow me to quickly screen for a “30-50 mile loop trip in the Olympic mountains” (or at least Washington) as well as to look for “all >100 mile loop trips in the US”. Perhaps, with Nikolas Andersen’s recent offer to review Scotland, Wales, and Lappland perhaps I could eventually find “a 25 mile point to point…..anywhere in the world!!”
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