SUBSCRIBE | NEWSLETTERS | MAPS | VIDEOS | BLOGS | MARKETPLACE | CONTESTS
TRY BACKPACKER FREE!
SUBSCRIBE NOW and get
2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.


» Welcome Guest
[ Log In :: Register ]

 

[ Track This Topic :: Email This Topic :: Print this topic ]

reply to topic new topic new poll
Topic: Suggestions for a 150-200 mile hike in December?< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
 Post Number: 1
metalman390 Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 66
Joined: Dec. 2010
PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 03 2013, 3:15 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I am looking for recommendations for a 150-200 mile hike in mid-late December. I am trying to keep it as snow free as possible, so I was thinking Arizona or New Mexico. I've been to the Gila Wilderness and Superstition Wilderness already, so something new if possible. Maybe a section of the Arizona Trail? I'm open to suggestions.

--------------
MetalBackpacker.com
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 2
John Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 840
Joined: Feb. 2002
PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 03 2013, 4:44 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

It's not in the SW but I would suggest Arkansas' Ozark Highlands Trail (165 miles) or the Ouachita Trail (223 miles).  You might get a dusting of snow but probably not.....nothing that would hinder your hike.  This is a great time to hike either of these trails during leaf-off.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 3
Eric H Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 2136
Joined: Jul. 2006
PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 03 2013, 5:29 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'll leave the AZ trail assessment to others who know it but would suggest a peek at the Grand Canyon which is prime that time of year, where I've done 34 midwinter backpacking trips.

A combination of the Tonto, Escalante Route, Beamer and Tanner might get you in the neighborhood of 140 miles, could splice in more on the n. side of the river. Mileage may, or may not, fit into your parameters ( if you have a point to point trip in mind) but the place certainly merits a multi-week visit. Mind, some of those "trails" are not where I'd send someone without significant Grand Canyon background, the place has a history of not being necessarily impressed with transfer credits.

Having done two month long trips (both Sierras based) one observation: logistics are a huge factor. I myself would rather not be forced to hike each day towards the next food drop but would prefer every second or third day to be available for side trips, exploration. To do otherwise raises a distinct possibility that you are marching past what you really came for -- and you find yourself in a remote, neat spot without a day to linger or explore.

One other thought worth passing on: daylight is short that time of year. Not a deal breaker but nice to build in time to enjoy the afternoon warmth, take a solar shower.

Nuff said
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 4
metalman390 Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 66
Joined: Dec. 2010
PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 03 2013, 10:25 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(John @ Sep. 03 2013, 4:44 pm)
QUOTE
It's not in the SW but I would suggest Arkansas' Ozark Highlands Trail (165 miles) or the Ouachita Trail (223 miles).  You might get a dusting of snow but probably not.....nothing that would hinder your hike.  This is a great time to hike either of these trails during leaf-off.

Thanks for the suggestions, but I really had my heart set on the southwest somewhere. I've been wanting to do a hike in the Ozarks, but keep ending up in Colorado! I love it out there.

--------------
MetalBackpacker.com
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 5
SW Mtn backpacker Search for posts by this member.
Born to hike, forced to work ...
Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 7105
Joined: Jul. 2006
PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 03 2013, 10:30 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(metalman390 @ Sep. 03 2013, 1:15 pm)
QUOTE
... Maybe a section of the Arizona Trail? I'm open to suggestions.

Perhaps the southern part of the Az Trail.  Realize the high elevations get snowed in.  Another idea might be a circumnavigation of the San Francisco Bay area connecting their ample public lands.  It is close enough to the ocean that snow is a rare event.

--------------
Usually Southwest and then some.

In wildness is the preservation of the world. - Henry Thoreau
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 6
metalman390 Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 66
Joined: Dec. 2010
PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 03 2013, 11:02 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Eric H @ Sep. 03 2013, 5:29 pm)
QUOTE
I'll leave the AZ trail assessment to others who know it but would suggest a peek at the Grand Canyon which is prime that time of year, where I've done 34 midwinter backpacking trips.

A combination of the Tonto, Escalante Route, Beamer and Tanner might get you in the neighborhood of 140 miles, could splice in more on the n. side of the river. Mileage may, or may not, fit into your parameters ( if you have a point to point trip in mind) but the place certainly merits a multi-week visit. Mind, some of those "trails" are not where I'd send someone without significant Grand Canyon background, the place has a history of not being necessarily impressed with transfer credits.

Having done two month long trips (both Sierras based) one observation: logistics are a huge factor. I myself would rather not be forced to hike each day towards the next food drop but would prefer every second or third day to be available for side trips, exploration. To do otherwise raises a distinct possibility that you are marching past what you really came for -- and you find yourself in a remote, neat spot without a day to linger or explore.

One other thought worth passing on: daylight is short that time of year. Not a deal breaker but nice to build in time to enjoy the afternoon warmth, take a solar shower.

Nuff said

The average low temps for the Grand Canyon in December was around 20, lower than I was expecting. What about snowfall, pretty likely during a hike that long? And wow, 34 trips... it must be worth the trip!

I've never hiked in the Grand Canyon. Are you saying that it would be difficult for a first-timer to navigate on the trails you suggested?

I'm with you on the extra days to explore. I really like doing that sort of stuff when I go with other people. When I go alone though, as this trip will be, I like to push myself. I'd like to work my way up to completing a thru hike of the PCT or CDT someday, so I am trying to progressively go on longer trips with longer mileage days. I haven't done a hike where I've needed to resupply yet, just week-long trips thus far. I'm good with planning and details though, so I'm not too concerned with that.

Good point on the amount of daylight, too. December 21st is the shortest day of the year, and I might be hiking on both sides of it.


--------------
MetalBackpacker.com
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 7
metalman390 Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 66
Joined: Dec. 2010
PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 03 2013, 11:12 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(SW Mtn backpacker @ Sep. 03 2013, 10:30 pm)
QUOTE

(metalman390 @ Sep. 03 2013, 1:15 pm)
QUOTE
... Maybe a section of the Arizona Trail? I'm open to suggestions.

Perhaps the southern part of the Az Trail.  Realize the high elevations get snowed in.  Another idea might be a circumnavigation of the San Francisco Bay area connecting their ample public lands.  It is close enough to the ocean that snow is a rare event.

I figured the northern sections of the AZT might be out. Can you give me an idea of how far north I could typically go on the AZT without too much snow?

California is just a little too far, I'll be driving from Michigan!


--------------
MetalBackpacker.com
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 8
High_Sierra_Fan Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 42789
Joined: Aug. 2005
PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 03 2013, 11:27 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Figuring "out" might be more important than "southwest" what about a section of the AT? Some of the southern portions should be low enough to dodge snow in December shouldn't there?

Maybe post the same thing in he South section?
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 9
SPeacock Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 2052
Joined: May 2004
PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 04 2013, 3:32 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

The southern part of Continental Divide Trail starting at the Mexican border might be worth a look.  NM hasn't been getting a lot of snow in recent years.  The trail stays below 7,000' for quite a bit.

Might be a tad cool.


--------------
Experience as well as wisdom, at times, is foolishly acquired.
To understand why details matter, you first need to notice them.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 10
Eric H Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 2136
Joined: Jul. 2006
PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 04 2013, 3:48 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Metalman,

--average low temps at Grand Canyon in Dec.  20 degrees?

I think you are looking at South Rim statistics. Average for New Year's day at Phantom Ranch (river level) is high 58, low 38. Most hiking takes place a little higher, cooler, roughly at 4,000' on the Tonto Plateau. I'd guesstimate that high of 53, low 28 would be more the norm on the Tonto, just fine by me.

--first - timer navigate some of those trails? Yes, some serious challenges, not the least of which is finding water in an energy and time efficient manner. Some of those trails are relatively benign, others serious challenges just for remoteness, lack of bailout options (West Tonto for sure)

-- Sounds like you are motivated by racking up miles, training for a PCT thru hike someday.

One sizeable caution on that -- the season, daylight. Roughly 11 hours of "usable" light that time of year, 11 hours you can work without a headlamp. And cactus can make after dark travel on any but the most major trails, or campsite selection, interesting.

It's not the long daylight of July, August and the simple math of available daylight changes a lot of calculations.

None of these are absolute dealkillers, but are factors present.

34 trips? Comes with longevity, many years of doing a trip or two there many winters. It's an incredible venue for winter backpacking.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 11
Eric H Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 2136
Joined: Jul. 2006
PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 04 2013, 6:01 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

HSF,

southern end of AT has some relatively high elevations, notably 6 thou in the Smokies, that translate into snow. Even if you'd stay off the highest stretches tho my concern would be the likelihood of cold rain. Don't have numbers in front of me but I'm pretty sure it'd be statistically quite a bit more precip. than AZ.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 12
SW Mtn backpacker Search for posts by this member.
Born to hike, forced to work ...
Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 7105
Joined: Jul. 2006
PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 04 2013, 7:59 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(metalman390 @ Sep. 03 2013, 9:12 pm)
QUOTE
I figured the northern sections of the AZT might be out. Can you give me an idea of how far north I could typically go on the AZT without too much snow?

Some of the mountain peaks ("sky islands") might get dusted with snow but doubt it would linger much in early December.  The higher elevations do get cold though (remember, Tucson has a mountain ski area).  I've been north and east of Phoenix, the Mazatzal and Superstitions without much problem mid-January.  Going north towards Sedona and Flagstaff, it gets cold real quick (my SUV heater couldn't keep up with the cold approaching Flagstaff 2 winters ago and I take it to ski resorts!!).  Same to the east approaching New Mexico since the Sonoran desert (Tucson and Phoenix) is a low hot desert while the Chihuahuan desert is another high, cold desert (Silver City, Las Cruces/El Paso, and Albuquerque).

That said, maybe check out the Sky Island Traverse in southern AZ, combining it the AZ part of the Grand Enchantment - (Sky Islands Traverse linky works Sept 2013); just remember to stop at the Chiricahua National Monument, not the Chiricahua forest which at 11,000 ft can stay in deep snow through spring break.  It burnt down a few years ago, so it was off-limits anyways.  Just double back to Wilcox AZ on IH-10 to get a bus back to the city you left your car in.  

Going east to Safford, you will run into more high mountain snow flurries as elevation goes up into the Chihuahuan desert.  New Mexico and the Grand Enchantment Trail through the Gila will be much colder than the same latitudes in neighboring southern AZ due to elevation gain.  The southern Gila, Peloncillos, and other "bootheel" areas are backpackable but not going to get 150 miles.


--------------
Usually Southwest and then some.

In wildness is the preservation of the world. - Henry Thoreau
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 13
Eric H Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 2136
Joined: Jul. 2006
PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 04 2013, 8:43 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

SW MT BPer,

Thanks for posting! Sky I. Traverse looks well worth a peek, some study. Mt. Graham always fascinated me.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 14
Rics Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 222
Joined: Mar. 2006
PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 05 2013, 12:19 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

There is simply nowhere in the US (outside of south florida and Hawaii) where miserable weather can not occur in late December. Even southern AZ can have very cold 25-40 that time of year. But it's the perfect time to head for Patagonia or NZ.
Rics in Wyoming


--------------
Rics
www.trekkerman.com
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 15
SW Mtn backpacker Search for posts by this member.
Born to hike, forced to work ...
Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 7105
Joined: Jul. 2006
PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 06 2013, 12:21 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Rics @ Sep. 05 2013, 10:19 am)
QUOTE
There is simply nowhere in the US (outside of south florida and Hawaii) where miserable weather can not occur in late December. Even southern AZ can have very cold 25-40 that time of year. But it's the perfect time to head for Patagonia or NZ.
Rics in Wyoming

Well, yeah Southern AZ in December will require "3-season + " gear and some of the higher mountains will be inaccessible.  Around Chiricuahua Pk there will be massive snow due to elevation despite the latitude being almost in Mexico. Then again, between cold-fronts I will visit Tucson enjoying 70 degree weather in shorts during the day.

--------------
Usually Southwest and then some.

In wildness is the preservation of the world. - Henry Thoreau
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 16
metalman390 Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 66
Joined: Dec. 2010
PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 06 2013, 11:32 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I was looking into the sky islands traverse, and I like what I see. I'm sure some areas of higher elevation will have a good amount of snow in mid-late December though. Below what elevation would you say generally stays snow free around that time of year? I don't mind a little snow, but I don't want to be postholing either.

I'm sure I can piece together a route here that avoids the highest elevations and meets my mileage requirements. Looks like a cool hike, wish I had the time to try the whole thing!


--------------
MetalBackpacker.com
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 17
SW Mtn backpacker Search for posts by this member.
Born to hike, forced to work ...
Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 7105
Joined: Jul. 2006
PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 08 2013, 6:18 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(metalman390 @ Sep. 06 2013, 9:32 pm)
QUOTE
Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I was looking into the sky islands traverse, and I like what I see. I'm sure some areas of higher elevation will have a good amount of snow in mid-late December though. Below what elevation would you say generally stays snow free around that time of year? I don't mind a little snow, but I don't want to be postholing either.

I'm sure I can piece together a route here that avoids the highest elevations and meets my mileage requirements. Looks like a cool hike, wish I had the time to try the whole thing!

Manning camp east of Saguaro is open year round at almost 9,000 while the ski lifts over Tucson at 9,100 open mid-Dec in a good snow year, though I'm not sure if they are using manmade snow or not:

http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea....ctid=50
We were getting hit with some fat snowflakes in the Galiuro Mtns in mid-December a year or 2 ago for about a day blanketing the ground but it had not stuck yet.  



Another recommendation:


Also Arizona's Superstitions east of Phoenix could work.  I've been there mid-Jan with no snow (though there was ice and plenty cold up top though so bring a 15F bag).  You get the graduation from saguaro filled desert at room-temperature to grassland to  forest if you get up to Reavis Ranch.  

Just figure a loop (there are many options), a couple off-trail bushwhacks (I put a TR to Reavis Falls back in 2007 if you do a search) and that's all there is.

Add: It's weird but Phoenix and environs are often warmer than Tucson despite being further north.


--------------
Usually Southwest and then some.

In wildness is the preservation of the world. - Henry Thoreau
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 18
metalman390 Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 66
Joined: Dec. 2010
PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 10 2013, 2:15 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

It seems like snow is hit or miss, but I'm thinking that if a lot of snow were to fall in the mountains, I could just take an alternate route lower in elevation. I could map out alternate routes in areas where snow might be a concern.

Logistically though, hiking a section sky islands traverse is going to be tough for me. I didn't spend a ton of time looking into a potential route yet, but I was thinking about the section from Saguaro NP to Klondyke Village. I based this decision off the mileage and views. I COULD drive from Michigan, and leave my car at one end of the hike, but how would I get to the other end? I'm sure there's no bus route between the the two towns, and a cab ride would be too expensive. Plus, from what I can tell, Klondyke Village isn't even a town, nor are there any towns in the area.

I could take another look at the supes if I can't get a route figured out in the sky islands. I hiked in the supes in March, but due to sickness and bad weather, I cut my 90 mile loop down to 20 miles. I'm sure I could add to my existing route that I already had planned and come up with something longer. Also, I have a cousin in Phoenix I could stay with, which would make things easier.

I've never flown anywhere to hike, I always drive. But, if I were to do the supes again, I would consider flying this time since I have somewhere to stay and would likely have rides to and from the trailhead. I was even thinking about flying into Tucsan if I do the sky islands, but I just can't figure out how I would do a point to point there without having a car at the other end.

Flying to a hiking destination seems like a real PITA logistically, which is why I have never done it. Any suggestions on how this could work if I flew into the Tucsan area for a point to point in the sky islands? And I am certainly open to suggestions for a different route as long as it fits my mileage requirements.


--------------
MetalBackpacker.com
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 19
SW Mtn backpacker Search for posts by this member.
Born to hike, forced to work ...
Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 7105
Joined: Jul. 2006
PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 10 2013, 2:21 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(metalman390 @ Sep. 10 2013, 12:15 pm)
QUOTE
It seems like snow is hit or miss, but I'm thinking that if a lot of snow were to fall in the mountains, I could just take an alternate route lower in elevation. I could map out alternate routes in areas where snow might be a concern.

Logistically though, hiking a section sky islands traverse is going to be tough for me. I didn't spend a ton of time looking into a potential route yet, but I was thinking about the section from Saguaro NP to Klondyke Village. I based this decision off the mileage and views. I COULD drive from Michigan, and leave my car at one end of the hike, but how would I get to the other end? I'm sure there's no bus route between the the two towns, and a cab ride would be too expensive. Plus, from what I can tell, Klondyke Village isn't even a town, nor are there any towns in the area.

I could take another look at the supes if I can't get a route figured out in the sky islands. I hiked in the supes in March, but due to sickness and bad weather, I cut my 90 mile loop down to 20 miles. I'm sure I could add to my existing route that I already had planned and come up with something longer. Also, I have a cousin in Phoenix I could stay with, which would make things easier.

I've never flown anywhere to hike, I always drive. But, if I were to do the supes again, I would consider flying this time since I have somewhere to stay and would likely have rides to and from the trailhead. I was even thinking about flying into Tucsan if I do the sky islands, but I just can't figure out how I would do a point to point there without having a car at the other end.

Flying to a hiking destination seems like a real PITA logistically, which is why I have never done it. Any suggestions on how this could work if I flew into the Tucsan area for a point to point in the sky islands?

Tucson has a mass transit system and is an outdoorsy type town.  Just get near the  entrance to Sabino Canyon or East Saguaro National Park.  I was planning something similar using transferring from a national bus to a local bus in TooSunny (I hate leaving a car at a trailhead for more than a couple nights) but don't have my notes.  Also not imposing on anyone who is working through the day (sun still sets early, so I'd plan a noon to afternoon entrance to the NF or NP.  It's doable, though.

--------------
Usually Southwest and then some.

In wildness is the preservation of the world. - Henry Thoreau
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 20
metalman390 Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 66
Joined: Dec. 2010
PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 10 2013, 11:36 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'm not worried about getting around in Tucsan, or getting to Saguaro NP from Tucsan, but rather the other end of the trip. It didn't seem like there were any towns along the trail that would support any bus routes, or even had paved roads. I might have to look at a different section of the trail, one that has better access to towns and roads on BOTH ends.

--------------
MetalBackpacker.com
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
19 replies since Sep. 03 2013, 3:15 pm < Next Oldest | Next Newest >

[ Track This Topic :: Email This Topic :: Print this topic ]


 
reply to topic new topic new poll

» Quick Reply Suggestions for a 150-200 mile hike in December?
iB Code Buttons
You are posting as:

Do you wish to enable your signature for this post?
Do you wish to enable emoticons for this post?
Track this topic
View All Emoticons
View iB Code



Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
City:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
State:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions