Author Topic: Advice for a 6 to 8 week hike in August-September  (Read 1034 times)

mcziegler

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Advice for a 6 to 8 week hike in August-September
« on: March 16, 2017, 09:39:25 AM »
Hi all!

I'll be finishing grad school in mid-August of 2017 and am hoping to do a hike for 6 to 8 weeks starting then. Before I get into the nitty-gritty of planning said hike, I'm reaching out to different trail forums across the country to find a trail/region that would be feasible and fantastic, and so am asking for your wisdom to learn if certain stretches of PNT could be an option for what I'm looking for.

First, a bit about myself. I'm an experienced back-packer, but this hike will definitely be my most serous undertaking. I've done about 12 solo multi-day back packing trips in my life, with the longest being a 9 day hike in Banff. I'm generally in good shape (15ish miles per day on standard terrain), have accumulated good gear, and will need to improve my navigation skills. I'm confident in my backpacking abilities, but would want to be realistic about not getting in over my head.

I would be willing for any stretch of the trail that would be reasonable. My goals would be diversity of terrain (lakes, mountains, rivers, forests, etc..), remoteness, avoid overly-complicated logistics (complex food drops, etc...). I'm not trying to be crazy-intense with daily average miles (10 to 15 per day, but willing for the occasional 20 or so), and would love if the trail I hike has the option to set up camp for 2 or 3 days in some places where I can do some pack-less exploring. Using those calculations, I'd be looking at a stretch that's about 400 to 500 miles - not accounting for elevation change. I will be hiking by myself, will most likely not have a car, will be traveling in from Wisconsin, and am trying to do a trip that's relatively affordable. I've already hiked for 3 days in Olympic National Parks and 3 days in the Cascades, but haven't been to any other parts of the trail and love to see the other stretches. My schedule's still up in the air, but the earliest I could start would be about August 7 and the latest I could go would be October 14.

Sorry for my overly vague request, but if you've made it this far and are willing to offer your advice: If you were a guy in my situation, do you think I could make a hike like this work somewhere on the PNT? And if so, any suggestions on which stretch? I know that it's hard to predict weather and where snow might make stretches of trail impassible, but is the hike I'm looking for even feasible this time of year?

I'm open to any clarifying questions you may have, and am very grateful for your consideration here. You might just tip me off towards the best hike of my life!

Take care,
Mike





 

Dylan Carlson

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Re: Advice for a 6 to 8 week hike in August-September
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2017, 04:04:35 AM »
There are a few other threads with prior recommendations for section hikers. Check out:

http://pnt.org/forum/index.php?topic=41
http://pnt.org/forum/index.php?topic=37

mcziegler

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Re: Advice for a 6 to 8 week hike in August-September
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2017, 02:41:18 AM »
Thanks for the links! I've looked at the first link and it's helped me to narrow in on the stretch from Glacier Park to Ross Lake. From a rough look at it, it seems like a do-able enough section to hone in on and start seeing if it's something I'd want to commit to and make plans for.

Thanks again,
Mike

mcziegler

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Re: Advice for a 6 to 8 week hike in August-September
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2017, 01:26:49 PM »
Hi again,

Though it's been a minute since my first post, I haven't forgotten about this idea. In fact, I've narrowed it down to what seems to a more specific - if still rough - idea that I'd hope for some feed back on.

I spoke on the phone with a kind and knowledgeable man (from this website!) about my situation. As a refresher - I will be free to hike from approximately August 25th until about October 7th. I have some experience with back country solo trips (a dozen or so such trips, with the longest being 9 days in Banff) and am hoping to have a fun and enjoyable adventure - meaning I'm not hoping to kill myself with miles, but will likely average 15 or so miles a day (on normal terrain) with a rest day every now and again... This puts me at about a 500 - 600 mile stretch. Though I could drive my own car out from Wisconsin, I'd rather fly to Seattle and take public transport/hitch to start/end. My main desires for this hike are - diversity of terrain, remoteness, avoiding a lot of roads (if possible) and something that's not incredibly complicated/overmyhead in regards to resupply or navigation.   

Given that background, the idea the person on the phone gave me is this: Pick a reasonable starting point on the PCT (likely somewhere in Glacier Peak wilderness) and hike a good chunk of the PCT headed North Bound (maybe Sections K and L, which having read trip reports didn't seem to have too much snow in late August/early September). Continue on North on PCT until where it meets the PNT in Pasayten wilderness, and hike East on the PNT through Pasyaten Wilderness until I reached a suitable stopping point somewhere in Eastern Wash. I have some questions regarding this plan:

1) What do you think the major difficulties I might run into during this stretch (weather/snow, areas that are very difficult to navigate, complicated resupplies, lots of road walking)? Anything prohibitive?
2) Generally, what is the terrain of the Pasyaten Wilderness and the trail east of it like? And at that time of year?
3) What would be a reasonable endpoint for this trip (provided I did about 100 miles on PCT first - I'm also open to PCT start points if anyone knows?)
4) The other idea I have is to hike south on the Appalachian Trail starting at the northern terminus in Maine, through the 100 mile wilderness and White Mountains, and back north up the Long Trail in Vermont. I know it's totally subjective, but which of these two trips would you do?

Thanks for abiding my spotty knowledge and vague questions. Let me know if you need to know anything more, feel free to redirect me to past posts, and thanks! If I end up deciding on this trip I'll get down to the gritty with all the available maps and guidebooks from this site.

Peace,
mcz

Dylan Carlson

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Re: Advice for a 6 to 8 week hike in August-September
« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2017, 11:10:55 PM »
1) What do you think the major difficulties I might run into during this stretch (weather/snow, areas that are very difficult to navigate, complicated resupplies, lots of road walking)? Anything prohibitive?
2) Generally, what is the terrain of the Pasyaten Wilderness and the trail east of it like? And at that time of year?
3) What would be a reasonable endpoint for this trip (provided I did about 100 miles on PCT first - I'm also open to PCT start points if anyone knows?)
4) The other idea I have is to hike south on the Appalachian Trail starting at the northern terminus in Maine, through the 100 mile wilderness and White Mountains, and back north up the Long Trail in Vermont. I know it's totally subjective, but which of these two trips would you do?

1) Weather basically guaranteed to be great until October 1. After that you're on borrowed time, but should be ok. The risk of forest fires is always a concern that time of year. Even if your trail remains open, air quality can suffer.
I think your biggest challenge will be trailhead access on both ends. If heading north on PCT, consider starting at Stevens Pass (US hiway 2) or Rainy Pass (WA hiway 20) because of ease of hitchhiking. Amtrak stops in the fun tourist town of Leavenworth, WA, which is an easy hitch up to Stevens Pass.

2) Pasayten Wilderness is popular with backcountry horsemen who do lots of volunteer trail work. It's a lovely area to hike. Unfortunately, it was hit by some pretty big fires 10 years ago. So large parts of the area are still recovering. Nevertheless, the Pasayten is a hidden jewel of WA state, and one of the best parts of the PNT. Trail condition is generally good on the PNT all the way through the Pasayten until you reach Oroville/Loomis, WA.

3) I did not love the stretch of the PNT immediately to the East of Oroville, WA. I would suggest Oroville as an ending point for your eastbound section hike. From Oroville it is possible (slow, complicated, but possible) to get public transit to Wenatchee, WA where Amtrak and Greyhound provide service.

4) Depends on how comfortable you are hiking alone. AT will have lots of folks. Your suggested PCT/PNT hike will have fewer crowds, especially once you start eastbound on the PNT through the Pasayten. Perhaps delay final decision until closer to your starting date to determine whether forest fires are a problem in Eastern WA this autumn?
« Last Edit: July 10, 2017, 12:23:54 AM by Dylan Carlson »

mcziegler

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Re: Advice for a 6 to 8 week hike in August-September
« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2017, 04:37:43 AM »
Dylan, thanks again!

Given what you wrote, I think I'm going to hold that proposed hike as my Number 1, with the AT as a backup in case of a forest fire. I've read some WTA trip reports of those regions at that time, and it all seems very beautiful, and very much what I'm looking for. I'm now going to get some of the trail guide books/resources and start planning in earnest.

A quick question - for a hiker of pretty good fitness, but one who leans towards enjoyment and exploration versus pounding through miles - how many weeks would you estimate from Stevens Path north to the PNT, then East to Oroville, WA?

If the time for that stretch is shorter than my hoped for 6 to 8 weeks, I might try and get transport afterwards to a separate, shorter hike that would be doable in that region in early/mid October.

Much gratitude,
Mike

Dylan Carlson

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Re: Advice for a 6 to 8 week hike in August-September
« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2017, 01:28:46 PM »
A quick question - for a hiker of pretty good fitness, but one who leans towards enjoyment and exploration versus pounding through miles - how many weeks would you estimate from Stevens Path north to the PNT, then East to Oroville, WA?

Super quick estimate using postholer maps shows that route has roughly 163 miles of PCT plus 106 miles of PNT = approx 270 miles. Not sure how fast you hike, but that's probably not enough miles of trail to fill six weeks of time.