It has now been a few years since I posted the thread on observations of light weight backpackers. This summer we did a trip in the same area. This time I must say, we were the heavy weights! We met a lot of JMT through hikers and they all seemed to have new light weight gear. I think the through-hikers have got the message! Gear makers are really emphasizing light weight and people are buying lots of it. Yes I did see a few old external frame packs but the majority were the new smaller packs. Most "heavy weights" like us were not through-hiking, rather we were "destination" hiking to fish or climb.
Which brings me again to comment on the John Muir Trail (JMT). Overuse of this trail has really degraded the wilderness experience as well as many lakes and streams along the trail. Published (and internet) trail guides seem to be channelling people to the same campsites. In their rush to complete the "trail" most JMT hikers do not even think of camping more than 20 yards off the trail! I think the internet has really pushed the "bragging rights" appeal of big name trails and the Forest Service and Park Service have not kept up the permit system to account for this new trend. Permits are given by trailhead entry quotas, with everyone heading to the JMT creating a clog of people on the trail. I go days without seeing anyone and then step onto the JMT and see 20+ people in an hour!
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
I go days without seeing anyone and then step onto the JMT and see 20+ people in an hour!
With the exception of a few popular day hike trails there is nothing like that happening here that I'm aware of. That's crazy.
I'll be doing my first section hike of a trail, the OHT (Ozark Highlands Trail), in early November so it will be interesting to compare the experiences. I don't expect to see many hikers at all, but since I'm seldom on a trail I could very well be surprised.
In their rush to complete the "trail" most JMT hikers do not even think of camping more than 20 yards off the trail!
I suppose when you approach every backpacking trip as a physical challenge or contest you must, to a great degree, ignore the broader environment while you focus on the challenge.
There's nothing wrong with that, it's just not why I backpack. Because my reasons are so far removed from that goal I'm just not interested at all in it. The innovation that goal inspires does interest me, but if you can tell me about a SSS (super scenic spot) spot you found some miles, or even a few hundred feet, off the beaten path I'd start taking notes.
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
A lot of wilderness areas require camping 100 or even 200 feet from designated trails. Unfortunately, most places have no enforcement. In some places, especially river valleys with a lot of fire-killed or bark-beetle-killed trees, getting that far from the trail without camping under a "widow-maker" just isn't possible. I normally try to get a quarter-mile or more off trail just for the sake of privacy.
There was a recent thread on BackpackingLight about the amount of trash and TP "flowers" along the JMT. Sounds like a place I want to avoid! I agree that too many of these trails are hyped. Even the PCT is hyped even though at least in the Northwest it avoids a lot of the best scenery (maybe just as well). As a result, people rush from one end to the other, trying to finish in one season and missing all of the wonderful side trips they could be doing. Your mileage may vary, of course, but that hiking style is not my cup of tea!
Edited by OregonMouse (09/23/1105:05 PM)
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
On that 9-day trip my pack weighed 38 pounds starting (with water). This is not my normal weight (I usually start at 30 pounds for a 9-day trip). When I do a trip with my husband, I carry most of the food, gas and cook gear and he carries the tent. He has a huge Gregory pack and prefers our 6-pound 2-man tent. He loosly stuffs everything in his pack so it really looks huge. We have different backpack styles- he likes lots of creature comforts, very sturdy gear, gadgets, and camp activities like fishing vs all day hiking. When we do trips together it is mainly his trip, so I do what I can to facilitate his goals. His pack without any group gear is already heavier than mine, even if I carry all the group gear. He certainly is willing to carry more, but it slows us down and it simply is more efficient for me to load up, as long as I am physically able to do so. I still use my old Kelty external frame pack when I have to carry a heavy load- so I look pretty old school!
We do see a few more people on the main trails in search of that single "epic" (which means famous) adventure. And yes, we avoid most of the main trails pretty consistently.
But on a recent trip to YOsemite we were stunned by the number of enthusiastic young day-hikers doing major trips with only a day pack. 20+ miles, major climbs, and all on their day off. These were kids (hey--we're nearly sixty, so anybody under 30 is a kid!)who were working in the park and taking advantage of the day off to really see some great country.
And when I was their age, I was more likely to hike 5-10 miles,do some fishing, and drink beer.