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Archive | Trip Planning

Extensive talus and huge vertical relief, par for the course on the Wind River High Route. It can get old.

Planning a high route? Three critical mental adjustments.

Within the backpacking community I have sensed increasing interest in “high routes,” such as the the Sierra High Route, Wind River Range High Route, and Kings Canyon High Basin Route. I think this concept will continue to expand, with most of the emphasis on “route” rather than “high,” since there are thematically similar opportunities in […]

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Food for 10+ days. When I calculated the cost/benefit of a mid-trip resupply, I determined that it was more efficient to carry all of my food from start to finish. This had the added advantage of increased flexibility: for 10 days I could go where ever I wanted, when I wanted.

Notes for next time: Gear, supplies, food & logistics

An assortment of takeaways from my Kings Canyon High Basin Route thru-hike earlier this month. They are mostly a reminder for me, but maybe they’ll have some value for you, too. If any prompt a question, leave a comment. Gear Pack weight. Take a handheld digital scale to the trailhead for a final weigh-in of all gear, supplies, and food. This […]

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Topographic maps, guidebook, and databook, plus my navigation tools: magnetic compass, altimeter/barometer watch, smartphone with GPS app, 2-way satellite messenger, and backup battery charger plus necessary cords.

Backpacking Trip Planning Checklist: To do before you go

I have planned hundreds of backpacking trips. Many have been personal outings, ranging from long weekends in nearby destinations to multi-month thru-hikes in faraway places. The rest have been guided, when I’ve been accountable to paying clients. To maximize my working efficiency and to prevent oversights when getting backpacking trips out the door, I use a trip planning checklist — a spreadsheet, […]

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East Fork, with views of the peaks surrounding Gardiner Basin. This is big country.

Finest route in the High Sierra? Introducing the Kings Canyon High Basin Route.

Seven years ago I thru-hiked with Buzz Burrell the Sierra High Route, which parallels the crest of the High Sierra between Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park and Yosemite National Park. Its 200 miles represents less than 1 percent of the total miles that I have hiked, yet the experience proved to be one of the most […]

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A closeup reveals how much topographic detail is compressed onto these maps. The upper map of Utah is at a scale of 1:75,000, or more than 1 mile per inch; the lower map is 1:250,000, or nearly 4 miles per inch. These maps are most useful when planning a trip, and may be sufficient in the field only for on-trail itineraries.

Essential backpacking topo maps: types, sources & formats

When I mostly only followed established backpacking trails or routes, I relied heavily on existing resources — topographic map sets, route descriptions, databooks, and now digital trail apps — under the assumption that they were sufficient, which they normally were. But when my trips became more of the choose-your-own-adventure variety, I had to develop these […]

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