Posted by: 300winmag

Wanderlust - 01/28/10 09:55 PM

Many of you here know I'm a gearhead. Some know I'm a winter camper and fewer know I'm 66. (67 in April).

I'm very experienced in backpacking an am gettin' the itch to do a long trail. The AT is NOT fer me. Seen way too many people on the 100s of miles I've already done there.

Helped build part of the PCT. Mebbe I should do that in 2011, after I do the JMT this summer as a shakedown.

Any trail suggestions... before I git too old?

Regarding gear, have any of you who did a long trail radically changed your gear lineup during or after your hike?

My Big Three:

TENT > TT Moment

SLEEP SYSTEM > WM Megalite, 10yr old Thermarest Lite reg.

PACK > REI Cruise UL 60 internal frame W/ 2 side pockets & Dana Wet Pib front pouch

BOOTS > Danner 453 GTX

STOVE > Vargo JET-TI canister

RAIN/WIND GEAR > Cabela's PacLite

WATER TREATMENT > SteriPen Adventurer & MicroPur tablets

PCT thru hikers, especially, chime in.



Thanks guys for all the trail suggestions. If only I was ten or twenty years younger I'd be up for most of them. And thanks for the pack suggestions too because I'm beginning to look at packs again. My present REI UL 60 pack can't last forever.
I'll likely be in touch with many of you regarding questions about suggested trails.

Posted by: Glenn

Re: Wanderlust - 01/28/10 10:07 PM

Ever thought about re-creating Colin Fletcher's Thousand-Mile Summer, or his walk through the Grand Canyon?
Posted by: oldranger

Re: Wanderlust - 01/28/10 10:22 PM

Right off the top of my head, there are all kinds of parks and similar areas that are not on everyone's lists - Canyon de Chelly, Gila Wilderness, Isle Royale come to mind immediately, but there are many, many others.
Posted by: Paul

Re: Wanderlust - 01/28/10 10:26 PM

Have you thought about just doing a long trip that is not one of the "Name" trails? If I had the time, I would rather do a long meandering trip through the High Sierra than do the PCT. Or some other trip of your own creation. Glenn's idea is not bad, either. Fletcher walked through some areas that very few people walk through on his California walk.
Posted by: Jimshaw

Re: Wanderlust - 01/28/10 10:46 PM

Winny, I think Paul has a good idea. Forget the named trails, there are trails that wander all over the Sierras, less traveled, less tromped, having nice unexpected camping spots. I like to just wander off trail myself and camp where ever it seems really cool. I have spent a lot of time between Sonora pass and Lake Tahoe. Its mostly in the 6500 to 8500 foot range, has lakes and water and for the most part is pretty underused. There's a lot of glaciated granite and then you get up to I80 and into the land of fire and ice where volcanoes poked through the glaciers. Its nice country, not as dry as down south, or as high. The really high country is mostly park and monument and you need permits and stuff. Well I guess you need permits everywhere and its hard to tell them that you're just gonna wander around, you can always claim to be lost, at least in the national forest they're not as uptight as in the parks like Kings Canyon..
Posted by: 300winmag

Re: Wanderlust - 01/28/10 11:21 PM


Yeah, off the well-beaten trails. Sounds more like me. Maybe two trails W/a cross country jaunt to join them. Maybe the nicest part of the Colorado Trail and a hike over to another nearby trail, say a week's hike away.

I've been feeling this coming for a couple of years now. It's getting to the "critical mass" stage.

I've done the Grand Canyon in '08 and I'm doing the GC Hermit-Bright Angel trail in late April so that's out.

A Colin Fletcher tribute walk may be good.
Posted by: finallyME

Re: Wanderlust - 01/29/10 09:30 AM

Just looking at google maps, I have always wanted to do a continental divide from Canada to Mexico. You could even shift that north and do a "from phat's beloved Jasper to Denver". Or you can be more creative and do a Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Arizona (with a detour through Vegas) trip. Or try a historic western migration route (like the Oregon trail from Missouri, or the pony express, or Mormon trail from Illinois). Just some ideas.
Posted by: ringtail

Re: Wanderlust - 01/29/10 10:32 AM

Hey Eric,

Hiking is NOT about the gear. It is just what we play with when we can NOT hike.

Get out there and do it.

Pictures please.

My buddy completed the Colorado Trail in 2009 at 77. It is not too late.
Posted by: Heber

Re: Wanderlust - 01/29/10 11:13 AM

I'd like to put in a plug for my local favorite, the Ozark Trail. It is a named trail but seems to be under the radar for most people. The continuous part of the trail is over 200 miles so I think it qualifies as a long distance trail. And it's gorgeous. Mostly oak/hickory forests (the hickory smell is awesome) interspersed with stands of tall white pine. Then occasionally the forest opens up into a glade which affords views of the surrounding hills. The terrain is quite steep in places and the geography varies from beautiful red Rhyolite in the Francois mountains to Sandstone and Dolomite further on. There are frequent creeks and streams and even occasionally great swimming holes.

Compared to the AT the great thing you will notice is the solitude. I very seldom see other hikers. And there are no mice-infested AT shelters you have to use. You can camp anywhere you like (as long as you aren't ON the trail). No backcountry permits either, just show up and hike.

Oh, and there are no bears to speak of. There are a few bears out there and everyone hopes to see one some day but most people never get the chance. I still hang my food but I don't worry about it much.

The main hazards of hiking in the Ozarks are the ticks. We don't have lyme disease that I know of but ticks are a nuisance. But a little permethrin takes care of that. I do see snakes now and then, occasionally a copperhead. But it doesn't take much to avoid them. The weather can be an issue. We get really strong thunderstorms occasionally which can be exciting. But that's part of the adventure!

The locals are also really friendly and helpful also. If they see you at a road crossing they'll almost always stop just to make sure you're okay. Really great people out there.

So if you are looking for long distance (but not thousands of miles) then don't overlook the Ozark Trail!
Posted by: BrianLe

Re: Wanderlust - 01/29/10 03:11 PM

Trails: if you're not set on doing an entire long trail in one season, I think a nice middle ground might be to bite off a big chunk, bigger than a section, less than "the whole thing". For the PCT, a great way to start might be the state of Oregon, more or less. Start at Ashland, hike to the Columbia River (or vice versa). Thru-hikers find Oregon to be pretty good cruising country (overall good trail, less discretionary elevation changes), and there are interesting things to see, like the Jefferson Wilderness, you walk close to Mt. Hood, Eagle Creek alternate route at the north end, Crater Lake towards the south end.

Gear: The one thing that stands out for me in your list is the boots; certainly some long distance hikers wear boots, but these days the majority wear some sort of breathable, quick-drying shoe. The rest of the gear items you list seem reasonable to me. Well, I don't know that pack, you might find something lighter that you would like from ULA or Gossamer Gear, Six Moon Designs (I'd try www.ula-equipment.com first if you're interested in seeing alternatives).

For the most part, however, gear that's not too heavy and you're used to seems like the right set of stuff to me!
Posted by: Jimshaw

Re: Wanderlust - 01/29/10 03:22 PM

did you mean Danner 453? If so I strongly agree with your choice.
Posted by: 300winmag

Re: Wanderlust - 01/29/10 09:19 PM


Yeah, that's the Danner model I meant. Couldn't think of the number. Decently mid weight and very well built. (Except that after several hundreds of miles the non-replaceable soles are wearing smooth.)
Posted by: 300winmag

Re: Wanderlust - 01/29/10 09:26 PM


The REI Cruise UL 60 is a fairly light pack with what I consider the minimal padding I can get by with and it has a quite decently rugged Dyneema reinforced material, far better than the 1st version.

For me I must have an internal framed pack. Osprey EXOS would be my current choice. And I do believe in their philosophy that the few ounces saved by not having a frame do not make up for the discomfort in the carry of a frameless pack (W/the 30 -35 lbs. necessary at some resupply stops on long trails).

Posted by: skinnyskier2112

Re: Wanderlust - 01/29/10 10:13 PM

Maybe you should consider the north country trail. If you're looking to do a long thru hike this is one of the longest and it would involve some pretty intense winter camping. I believe it's one of the less traveled 'named' trails as well.


Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: Wanderlust - 01/29/10 10:17 PM

The ULA Catalyst (not quite 3 lbs.) and the Six Moon Designs Starlight and Traveler (with the "optional"--mandatory, IMHO--stays, 30 oz.) do have frames--including load lifters, which my pressure-sensitive shoulders insist on--and are quite comfortable up to 35-40 lbs. The two SMD packs run about 30 oz. each. If I can carry 35 lbs. in an SMD pack (the discontinued Comet, in my case) without discomfort (well, my knees and feet were unhappy, but my back, shoulders and hips were fine), so can you. One of those SMD packs would save you 2 lbs. right there.

Should you try hiking the Rockies (my suggestion would be Wyoming's Wind Rivers which you can hike end-to-end on the west side or do cross-country exploration--check with Wandering_Daisy, our resident expert), you'll definitely need a warmer sleeping bag. Snow and temps down in the low 20's or even high teens can happen any time during the summer.
Posted by: phat

Re: Wanderlust - 01/30/10 12:44 AM

Well, if you're going to head north, and you're thinking CDT,
personally, I'd look at doing a piece of it south to north looking to go through the spine of Banff and jasper, or just jasper. depends how long you wanna be out.

If I personally had 2 or 3 weeks to put to it, I'd go from Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, up either northover or the turbine canyon trail, cross into bc, up through the back side of banff past assiniboine, egypt lake, up through nigel pass into jasper, jonas pass, poboktan, maligne, hit maligne lake, cross onto the skyline and finish at jasper. lots of variants you can do there if you wanna head my way.

Done the pieces of it, never done it all at once.

Posted by: GrumpyGord

Re: Wanderlust - 01/30/10 06:58 AM

I would also recommend the North Country Trail. Lots of long sections on trail with minimal road walk. Most of it does not require any permits and camping is wherever you end up at night. I hiked a 100 mile section in Wisconsin last summer and only saw one person and that was in a picnic area where I went to get water.
Posted by: tpdwr

Re: Wanderlust - 01/30/10 06:56 PM

There are ways to hike the PCT and avoid the crowds.
As a PCT section hiker I can vouch for this method for avoiding the crowds. That's my experience anyway. Also the advantage of being able to pick the best time of year for a particular section. I hiked Tahoe to Yosemite a few years ago and saw 8 total backpackers in almost 200 miles! This was late August into September. Seems to be way fewer folks later in the year. On the Tehachipi Pass/Walker Pass Section I saw no one at all. I did this in April before the through hiker bunch.
As an older hiker (65) I carry what I'm comfortable with and keep my mileage per day enjoyable.

Posted by: 300winmag

Re: Wanderlust (North Country Trail) - 01/30/10 08:25 PM

This trail, at least in Pennsylvania, is VERY poorly marked and even more poorly maintained.

It COULD be a great long trail, with a lot of maintenance, but it isn't, IMHO.

Posted by: JPete

Re: Wanderlust - 01/30/10 10:08 PM


Are you, by any chance familiar with the Ozark Highlands trail?

I realize that with the weather I've been seeing on the weather channel, it's possible that neither you nor Tim Ernst may even have a trail. Grew up with Ozark ice storms, know what they can do. Feel really bad for you. jcp
Posted by: BrianLe

Re: Wanderlust - 01/31/10 01:44 PM

"There are ways to hike the PCT and avoid the crowds."

One thing I did learn in thru-hiking was that most trails are empty most of the time. If a person normaly does short- to moderate-length trips during the best weeks of summer, starting from trailheads near populated areas, it's easy to form the opposite conclusion, but for a person walking longer distances you can get away from what then feels like temporary patches of density.

OTOH, on a long trip it can be easy to forget what day it is and find yourself walking walking rather suddenly into densely packed trails on a weekend. Oh well! There's an upside to that too: lots of day hikers near the trailhead means you have a good chance of hitching a ride into town!
Posted by: weight2funratio

Re: Wanderlust - 01/31/10 09:36 PM

I'd like to chime in about the Superior Hiking Trail along Lake Superior in Minnesota. From Two harbors to Grand Portage (S-->N), you will see wild northern territory with lots of lake views (one stretch is alont the rocky shores). The Terminus connects with the Border Route trail, and that is some amazing territory. The Border Route takes you through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, up and down amazing cliffs and portages, deep into some wild north woods. As a detour along the Superior Trail, just before the terminus and the beginning of the Border Route, you could take a ferry out ot Isle Royale, and check that out. It is rough and amazing...

You are my hiker hero, 300M. I feel your need to hit the trails while you feel you still can. But really, I get the impression that you might want to go ahead and invest in some brand new gear that you can wear out. Plenty of miles left in ya...

Oh yeah, consider getting an Osprey Atmos 65 Backpack... The prices have come down (sales), and they are totally awesome. The frame is really something...
Posted by: GrumpyGord

Re: Wanderlust (North Country Trail) - 02/01/10 06:35 AM

Originally Posted By 300winmag
This trail, at least in Pennsylvania, is VERY poorly marked and even more poorly maintained.

It COULD be a great long trail, with a lot of maintenance, but it isn't, IMHO.


It is only about half completed so there are some sections which are just marked with minimum blazing and treadway and other sections which are up to standards. Many of the sections with minimum blazing are an attempt to keep the trail as a continuous path. The goal is to go back and complete these sections as time and funds permit. It actually is pretty amazing how good the trail is considering that it is almost all built and maintained by volunteers. I have not hiked in Pennsylvania so I cannot speak specifically about that portion of the trail.
Posted by: PerryMK

Re: Wanderlust - 02/01/10 09:49 AM

The Pinhoti Trail in Alabama is often said to have the beauty of the AT without the crowds. I believe it's around 110 miles.

Posted by: idahosteve

Re: Wanderlust - 02/01/10 07:31 PM

Here's another trail to consider. Idaho's Centennial Trail. Its the length of the state of Idaho, and is rarely done the entire length. You will definitley be on the trail and in the wilderness without seeing hordes of folks! there are entire sections that are rarely even hiked! Plus, its an ego booster, as there have been few thru hikers who have completed it in its entire history so far.
Posted by: 300winmag

Re: Wanderlust - 02/02/10 11:30 PM

OOO!STEVE! I like that Idaho Centennial Trail idea. I'll research it B/C I like Idaho's scenery.

Thanks, Eric
Posted by: skippy

Re: Wanderlust - 02/03/10 03:20 AM

Originally Posted By 300winmag
OOO!STEVE! I like that Idaho Centennial Trail idea. I'll research it B/C I like Idaho's scenery.

Thanks, Eric

This would be my personal pick as I love Idaho (I grew up there) and have been personally intrigued by this trail. I think it would be hard to beat with good solitude and scenery.

You will of course be required to post pics of the trip. Go for it! Can I quit my job and come along?

Posted by: skippy

Re: Wanderlust - 02/03/10 03:28 AM

Check out this link on the Centennial trail.

Posted by: 300winmag

Re: Wanderlust - 02/04/10 06:29 PM


Thanks! I bookmarked it. Never even heard of that trail but it is going to get investigated by me for sure. I hope there is a guidebook for it like there is for the Colorado Trail.

Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: Wanderlust - 02/04/10 07:09 PM

Brian Frankle, the former owner of ULA, hiked the Idaho Centennial Trail in 2008 and had an interesting online journal. I linked to it from the ULA site. However, since he sold ULA last fall, the link may no longer be there.