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View Full Version : Hiking suggestions for a 3 week training trip (Dec 12-Jan12)?


amatlis
11-19-2009, 13:44
Hi, I'm shipping to Ft Benning Jan 12, 11B OSUT as Rep-63 candidate. I'm taking a month off from work before I ship, and I'm thinking about doing a 3 week extended hiking trip before I ship, both as training and for pleasure. It probably makes sense to avoid winter conditions, so I'm looking at the Southwest (AZ, UT, NM, CA), maybe some canyon hiking. Can anyone recommend some good trails/extended circuits? I'm trying to figure out the food and water logistics if I want to do something longer than just day trips. Or maybe day tripping it is the way to go, and then I'd probably need a rental car.

Thanks in advance!

BravoAlpha
11-19-2009, 14:44
I'd recommend hiking a southern portion of the PCT. You do the math as far as distance is concerned, given your window and estimated pace. You will encounter "winter conditions" though, even in CA. For example, if you undertake anything above 11k, you'll need crampons and an ice axe.

For the PCT, figure out how much ground you'll cover each day and you can plant provisions along the way. Use the bear containers located at the branch-off trail heads. Some of the winter ranger posts will also allow you to leave provisions.

Another option would be hiking through and around Zion National Park. That's canyon heaven. Though, the winter months can be pretty unforgiving in that region, for a number of reasons.

lksteve
11-19-2009, 14:45
If you have done something like this, then you should have an idea where to look....but if you haven't done anything like this, I'd recommend you rethink your goals...day hike, sight see, enjoy yourself...but a three week trek in the western US could be fatal to a novice.

There are a lot of day hikes in Death Valley, but you have the potential to see quite a bit of snow in the Grand Canyon or any of the canyons or National Parks in Utah or New Mexico this time of year...

Rethink what you want to do...my $0.02...YMMV

amatlis
11-19-2009, 15:06
Thank you for the replies. I looked at the PCT, Zion, New Mexico, Grand Canyon. I hadn't looked at Death Valley. I was concerned that there might still be snow that far south, so you have answered my question in that regard. Thank you BravoAlpha for the tips on food provisioning. I have done hiking with crampons and an ice axe in the past, but I wouldn't feel safe doing it alone and I don't have a buddy to take with me.

Most of my hiking has been in the Alps or Rockies in the Summer months which is very different than the Southwest. The Alps are very civilized with hostels on most of the peaks, so it's quite easy to do it alone. I did my hiking in the Rockies with Sierra Club in the Summer. Unfortunately, there are less options in the Winter. I had also looked at the Sierra Madre mountains in Mexico, but the stories of single hikers having trouble with drug traffickers discouraged me from that route.

It sounds like day-trips are going to be my best option.

Thanks again!

The Reaper
11-19-2009, 15:06
Appalachian Trail.

TR

amatlis
11-19-2009, 15:10
Thank you! Is there a portion of the AT that you would recommend for a 3 week period? I hear the northern section is more scenic. One of the SF candidates I met at the WV 19th did the entire AT and he was in excellent rucking shape!

Appalachian Trail.

TR

The Reaper
11-19-2009, 15:17
Thank you! Is there a portion of the AT that you would recommend for a 3 week period? I hear the northern section is more scenic. One of the SF candidates I met at the WV 19th did the entire AT and he was in excellent rucking shape!


In the winter?

Start at the southern end and see how far you can get. Alternatively, move south with the weather and start several hundred miles up the trail and see if you can make it to the end in Georgia. Twenty miles per day should be a decent smoker, maybe one day off or short per week.

It is close enough to civilization that people mail themselves resupply drops and pick them up at the local POs as they are passing through.

I doubt that you would get too far into Virginia before hitting serious snow. You could pick it up near Frederick or Front Royal. Might make a nice slow tour of War of Northern Aggression Valley Campaign battlefields.

TR

amatlis
11-19-2009, 15:56
Yes in Winter. I have from Dec 12 - Jan 12 before I ship. I live in Arlington, VA, so I could always start here and head south. I like your suggestion on touring the battlefields. I just started reading Newt Gingrich's book "Gettysburg: A novel of the Civil War". If it snows, though, it might be a little tricky. That's why I originally thought about the Southwest. Then again, we haven't had much snow up here in recent Winters...

In the winter?

Start at the southern end and see how far you can get. Alternatively, move south with the weather and start several hundred miles up the trail and see if you can make it to the end in Georgia. Twenty miles per day should be a decent smoker, maybe one day off or short per week.

It is close enough to civilization that people mail themselves resupply drops and pick them up at the local POs as they are passing through.

I doubt that you would get too far into Virginia before hitting serious snow. You could pick it up near Frederick or Front Royal. Might make a nice slow tour of War of Northern Aggression Valley Campaign battlefields.

TR

amatlis
11-19-2009, 16:05
Seems the Appalachian Trail is possible in Winter with some added benefits like fewer people, no insects, clearer views without tree leaves, but also has some serious challenges with the colder temperatures, hiking through deep snow, and potential to lose the trail under the snow:

http://www.gadling.com/2009/08/10/hiking-the-appalachian-trail-in-the-winter/

Red Flag 1
11-19-2009, 16:18
Yes in Winter. I have from Dec 12 - Jan 12 before I ship. I live in Arlington, VA, so I could always start here and head south. I like your suggestion on touring the battlefields. I just started reading Newt Gingrich's book "Gettysburg: A novel of the Civil War". If it snows, though, it might be a little tricky. That's why I originally thought about the Southwest. Then again, we haven't had much snow up here in recent Winters...

There has already been snow @ Wintergreen.

You might want to check in with the National Park Service. Though you plan to hike south, the altitude along your route may become problematic. Let folks know where you are going and check in frequently.

In the 80's I hiked, with others, in Sequoia National Forest, and Mineral King. Got surprised by a huge early September snowfall of 36" in Mineral King, drifts in excess of 6'. Hardest part was identifying and breaking trail. One member of our party had little cold weather gear and we spent a lot of time tending to that hiker.

Plan well, equip for anything. Best of luck!

RF 1

2018commo
11-19-2009, 21:11
If you can get a ride, start at the southern end of Shenandoah National Park and finish at Harpers Ferry, hop on the train to DC and Metro to home, (if you are a proficient backpacker). You’ll like the roller coaster. :lifter I will be at Big Meadows this weekend with some “not so quiet” Boy Scouts. Old Rag Mountain to White Oak Canyon is a interesting Blue Blaze tune –up. You can also do Harpers Ferry to PenMar in a weekend. You might be better off doing local hikes, (C&O Canal has lots of options) and finding someone to administer random APFT’s. The APFT should become your easiest day of PT.

frostfire
11-19-2009, 22:33
Thank you! Is there a portion of the AT that you would recommend for a 3 week period? I hear the northern section is more scenic. One of the SF candidates I met at the WV 19th did the entire AT and he was in excellent rucking shape!

I will also recommend Appalachian Trail. Why the northern section, the southern can be just as scenic. Make sure you take a look at Preacher’s Rock, which is an incredible natural bald in the Blood Mountain Wilderness by the Blue Ridge Mountains. It makes good camping site, too. Be aware of hunting grounds along/near the trail.

Oh, and this is the most important detail, watch Deliverance first :eek::D
Then you would know that when you hear the banjo, it's time to run :D

amatlis
11-20-2009, 09:25
The Appalachian Trail would definitely be a great option in warmer weather. It's perfect for extended hiking. But the more I research it, the more I'm starting to think there's a high likelihood of significant snow in the mountains for the Dec 12 - Jan 12 time period. Are you guys suggesting I hike the AT in winter or more generally when the weather is warmer? The Southwest is looking better to me right now for the snow reasons. Warmer weather and beautiful scenery. Should be safe if I confine myself to day trips. Less technical compared to hiking through snow and searching for buried paths.... Is this correct? I'm not shying away from a good workout and I do think snow is beautiful, but I will be on my own with possibly no cellphone signal if I lose my way.

Sierra Bravo
11-20-2009, 10:36
I just finished the AT last weekend:cool:
going on the dates you were intending you're going to find snow at elevated heights pretty much everywhere - that late in the season you're def better off doing daytrippers unless you're experienced in extreme enviroments.

and I wouldn't over do it you want to make sure you have plenty of recuperation time before you deploy.

The Reaper
11-20-2009, 10:44
I just finished the AT last weekend:cool:
going on the dates you were intending you're going to find snow at elevated heights pretty much everywhere - that late in the season you're def better off doing daytrippers unless you're experienced in extreme enviroments.

and I wouldn't over do it you want to make sure you have plenty of recuperation time before you deploy.

You seem to have skipped the rules and stickies.

I recommend that you stop posting until you have read them and complied.

TR

BravoAlpha
11-20-2009, 11:08
Are you guys suggesting I hike the AT in winter or more generally when the weather is warmer? The Southwest is looking better to me right now for the snow reasons. Warmer weather and beautiful scenery. Should be safe if I confine myself to day trips. Less technical compared to hiking through snow and searching for buried paths.... Is this correct? I'm not shying away from a good workout and I do think snow is beautiful, but I will be on my own with possibly no cellphone signal if I lose my way.

Aside from the challenges and associated risk of hiking the AT in dead winter, you're not going to experience much of the scenery that you'd find in, say, the spring time. My personal opinion is that even day hikes on the AT would be a little boring. Plus, there's not the dramatic elevation change that you'll find in the SW.

If I were planning your trip, I'd stick to Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park with several 3-5 day hikes. Throw in a 2-day Mt. Whitney summit, and some additional High Sierra routes and you've got the makings of a good challenge. You'll still need crampons/ice axe, and highly reliable cooking/H2O filtering equipment though. Dec in the High Sierras can provide some very spontaneous weather.

While most of the trails will be covered in snow, nearly all of them in the Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks are pretty hard to wonder off of. They are very well maintained and the backcountry is thoroughly patrolled even in winter.

The Reaper
11-20-2009, 11:24
I think he was looking to ruck and get into shape, not mountain climb.

I would not be engaging in a lot of physically risky activity just prior to an SFAS date.

TR