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  1. #1
    Registered User wcgornto's Avatar
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    Default Western Section Hike. Where to Go?

    I have about ten days available to hike sometime in July. I would like to go to a western range where I have not hiked before. Wind River? Sawtooth Loop? Somewhere else?

    Suggestions are welcome.

  2. #2

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    Wind River Range is gorgeous. So are the Beartooths. Falcon Press has a good guidebook for the Absaroka Beartooths. Glacier NP or Yellowstone if you don't mind dealing with permits.

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    I'm looking at the Pasayten wilderness in Washington. Seems promising. I doubt there's any public transportation, though.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

  4. #4

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    I have hiked a few places now in the last few years on and around the Continental Divide, and the Wind River Range remains my favorite. There are a network of trails in the area so you could design your own hike -- there are lots of great places that are not on the official CDT, which goes through the range. Here are links to a couple pictures from my hiking trip there:

    http://whiteblaze.net/forum/vbg/show...imageuser=7623

    http://whiteblaze.net/forum/vbg/show...imageuser=7623

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    Freaking gorgeous. Purple mountain majesties, indeed.

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    Registered User wcgornto's Avatar
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    I'll definitely consider the Beartooths.

    Concerning Wind River Range for those of you have hiked it, is there a "best" way to spend a week or so ... 70 to 80 miles. I have seen pages devoted to the crest of the Wind River Range, or the high route ... about 80 miles linear hike. Shuttles seem to be available from an outfitter The Great Outdoors. Is this hike highly recommended or are others preferable? Can this hike be done in July without much snow/ ice obstacle or is it best to wait until August?

  7. #7
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    Well, that narrows it down - the West and ten days.

    The West is a pretty big place with a virtual infinite number of 10 day section hikes suitable for July. Do you thunk you can narrow it down further - southwest, mid west, upper mid west, northwest, desert/wet/dry environment, ridge, elev, established trail, easy/moderate/difficult/extreme hike, hiking experience of those in your party, etc?

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by wcgornto View Post
    I'll definitely consider the Beartooths.

    Concerning Wind River Range for those of you have hiked it, is there a "best" way to spend a week or so ... 70 to 80 miles. I have seen pages devoted to the crest of the Wind River Range, or the high route ... about 80 miles linear hike. Shuttles seem to be available from an outfitter The Great Outdoors. Is this hike highly recommended or are others preferable? Can this hike be done in July without much snow/ ice obstacle or is it best to wait until August?
    When I hiked there I used the two Earthwalk Press maps for the area and consulted Joe Kelsey's book, Climbing and Hiking in the Wind River Mountains before I went. Both were very good resources. Here is a passage from Kelsey's book that addresses your question about a suggested route:

    "Combining the northern Highline with the Fremont Trail (the more rugged but more scenic and recommended way), it is 64 miles from Green River Lakes to Big Sandy Opening; following the Highline the entire way is 72 miles."

    And I will add that it is a short side hike off this route to get to the Titcomb Basin area, which is spectacular. It is a longer side trip to the also amazing Cirque of the Towers area. You could take or skip these side trips depending on how you were doing for time.

    The year I went, 2011, was a very high snow year and there was still snow around in early August in places like Indian Basin (a neighbor to Titcomb Basin), which was unusual. According to info I just looked up (at an NRCS website) the snow this year is also above average at this time in the Wind Rivers, but not as much as 2011. So this year in July it's likely that the Winds will be wetter/snowier (and thus more mosquitoes in July) than average, though things could change between now and then.

    It's hard to say what the "best" way to spend 7 to 10 days would be. I didn't "thru-hike," myself. I did a four day round trip into the Cirque of the Towers area from the nearest trailhead, and then did another four days in the same fashion to explore the Titcomb Basin area. I did a couple non-technical scrambles off trail to the tops of mountains and these were the highlights of my experiences there. It's hard for me to imagine hiking through the Winds without walking up to the top of at least one mountain.
    Last edited by map man; 03-15-2014 at 19:29.

  9. #9
    Registered User wcgornto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    Well, that narrows it down - the West and ten days.

    The West is a pretty big place with a virtual infinite number of 10 day section hikes suitable for July. Do you thunk you can narrow it down further - southwest, mid west, upper mid west, northwest, desert/wet/dry environment, ridge, elev, established trail, easy/moderate/difficult/extreme hike, hiking experience of those in your party, etc?
    Moderate to difficult (10 to 15 mpd with plenty of up and down, but non-technical). One in my party. Established trail or otherwise not too difficult bushwhacking. Not too hot (should rule out much of southwest). No requirement for ice ax and crampons (kahtoolas OK for some stretches). Not Alaska (That's where I live.). Good drinking water access. Either loop or good shuttle availability + relatively safe trail head so that rental car will still be there and unmolested at end of hike. Not JMT (have already hiked most of it and was there last year).

  10. #10
    Registered User wcgornto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by map man View Post
    When I hiked there I used the two Earthwalk Press maps for the area and consulted Joe Kelsey's book, Climbing and Hiking in the Wind River Mountains before I went. Both were very good resources. Here is a passage from Kelsey's book that addresses your question about a suggested route:

    "Combining the northern Highline with the Fremont Trail (the more rugged but more scenic and recommended way), it is 64 miles from Green River Lakes to Big Sandy Opening; following the Highline the entire way is 72 miles."

    And I will add that it is a short side hike off this route to get to the Titcomb Basin area, which is spectacular. It is a longer side trip to the also amazing Cirque of the Towers area. You could take or skip these side trips depending on how you were doing for time.

    The year I went, 2011, was a very high snow year and there was still snow around in early August in places like Indian Basin (a neighbor to Titcomb Basin), which was unusual. According to info I just looked up (at an NRCS website) the snow this year is also above average at this time in the Wind Rivers, but not as much as 2011. So this year in July it's likely that the Winds will be wetter/snowier (and thus more mosquitoes in July) than average, though things could change between now and then.

    It's hard to say what the "best" way to spend 7 to 10 days would be. I didn't "thru-hike," myself. I did a four day round trip into the Cirque of the Towers area from the nearest trailhead, and then did another four days in the same fashion to explore the Titcomb Basin area. I did a couple non-technical scrambles off trail to the tops of mountains and these were the highlights of my experiences there. It's hard for me to imagine hiking through the Winds without walking up to the top of at least one mountain.
    Thanks. I have Joe Kelsey's book on the way, as this place looks like somewhere I need to go, whether this year or not. I checked snow pack myself and noted that it is above average ... quite different than the Sierra Nevada when I was gearing up for the JMT last year. Higher snow pack would push me toward later July rather than earlier in the month. August is out for work reasons and I already have a stretch of the AT in Maine lined up for September. Your approach of a couple of four day round trips could work for me as an alternative to a single linear stretch, as I could leave a car at different trail heads. Thanks for the great information.

  11. #11

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    You could easily do a loop out of Big Sandy in the Winds, using two of the alternate CDT routes - out through Cirque of the Towers and back via Temple Pass. Lots of side areas to explore. Both are awesomely beautiful and not technical. Or do the two routes north of Big Sandy via the Fremont Trail and the Highline Trail. You may run into snow at the top of the passes, but most of the area in mid-July should be passable. Mosquitoes will likely be bad though if snowmelt was recent.

  12. #12
    Registered User wcgornto's Avatar
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    What about grizzlies in Wind River? Anyone had any encounters? We have lots of grizzlies in Alaska, but I don't hike solo in the back country.

    Are bear canisters warranted or required for food storage?

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    Quote Originally Posted by map man View Post
    When I hiked there I used the two Earthwalk Press maps for the area and consulted Joe Kelsey's book, Climbing and Hiking in the Wind River Mountains before I went. Both were very good resources. Here is a passage from Kelsey's book that addresses your question about a suggested route:...
    Now I have to add this to my list of place to hike. Is that Kelsey book OK for hikers who are not also mountain climbers? Also, how did you handle logistics? Fly/car rental? Drive? Fly/shuttle hire? Loop hike? Spot a car? Transportation options seem limited there

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Odd Man Out View Post
    Now I have to add this to my list of place to hike. Is that Kelsey book OK for hikers who are not also mountain climbers? Also, how did you handle logistics? Fly/car rental? Drive? Fly/shuttle hire? Loop hike? Spot a car? Transportation options seem limited there
    The main focus of the book is climbing, but there is a lot about hiking because you have to do a fair amount of hiking to get from any trailhead to any place to climb. My hiking partner and I drove one car out to Wyoming and that worked fine because we always came out at the same trailhead that we went in. We did three days of day hikes with just day packs in Grand Tetons/Yellowstone to acclimatize before tackling the Winds with full backpacks.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by map man View Post
    The main focus of the book is climbing, but there is a lot about hiking because you have to do a fair amount of hiking to get from any trailhead to any place to climb. My hiking partner and I drove one car out to Wyoming and that worked fine because we always came out at the same trailhead that we went in. We did three days of day hikes with just day packs in Grand Tetons/Yellowstone to acclimatize before tackling the Winds with full backpacks.
    Are you familiar with the Adkinson Guide. Would one be better than another?

    http://www.amazon.com/Hiking-Wyoming...nd+River+Range

  16. #16
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    Olympic NP- combine a 2-3 day coastal hike(one of the BEST in the U.S. IMHO), lake side camp(Ozette, Crescent), rain forest/hot springs(Sol Duc, Hoh River), mountains(Hurricane Ridge, Seven Lakes Basin) hike

    Glacier NP - take your pic, it's all spectacular, make sure to actually experience a glacier because they'll all be shortly gone

    Wind River Range - might still have some snow at the highest elevations into July, the High Routes are spectacular if feasible for your group, several shweet loops are possible combing the best of both worlds(highest elev stufs and middle/lower elev stuff)

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    If you're driving south from Anchorage rather than flying in to hike I would give serious consideration to bagging two of the Canadian Provincial Parks doing two shorter hikes as well.

  18. #18
    Registered User wcgornto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    Olympic NP- combine a 2-3 day coastal hike(one of the BEST in the U.S. IMHO), lake side camp(Ozette, Crescent), rain forest/hot springs(Sol Duc, Hoh River), mountains(Hurricane Ridge, Seven Lakes Basin) hike

    Glacier NP - take your pic, it's all spectacular, make sure to actually experience a glacier because they'll all be shortly gone

    Wind River Range - might still have some snow at the highest elevations into July, the High Routes are spectacular if feasible for your group, several shweet loops are possible combing the best of both worlds(highest elev stufs and middle/lower elev stuff)

    Thanks for the additional suggestions. Some Olympic NP combination is very appealing to me.

    I appreciate what you are saying about glaciers, though I am privileged to see them up close here in Alaska and I have hiked all over them in southern Patagonia in Argentina.

  19. #19
    Registered User wcgornto's Avatar
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    I appreciate all the input from each of you. Keep them coming. While I can't do them all this year, they are all going on my list.

  20. #20

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    A nice loop hike with great scenery is the 168mile Tahoe Rim Trail in California/Nevada.

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