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Locations & Route Info


Location information

In 2019 I plan to offer trips in four locations. Jump to (in chronological order):


Colorado Rockies: Rocky Mountain National Park

Welcome to my backyard, the Front Range Mountains of Colorado!

Rocky Mountain National Park encompasses some of Colorado’s most majestic scenery. It has extensive alpine areas, pristine lakes, deep glacier-carved valleys, and robust populations of elk, moose, and mule deer.

Elevations range from 8,000 to over 14,000 feet. Lodgepole pine covers most of the lower areas; spruce and sub-alpine fir extend into the upper ends of treeline.

In July, the park is exceptional for its wildflowers, lush vegetation, and waterfalls. In September, the tundra and aspens turn colors, and the elk rut is at its peak.

The 5-day Adventure trips will follow sections of the Pfiffner Traverse, an off-trail route that accesses some of the most remote corners of the park.

Trailheads

The 3-day trips are normally held in Wild Basin, west of Allenspark and just south of Longs Peak.

The 5-day trips normally start outside of Grand Lake, on the west side of the park.

Getting there

Rocky Mountain National Park within easy driving distance of the Front Range metro areas. It’s about two hours from Boulder or Denver, and 2.5 hours from Denver International Airport (DEN).

Carpooling among group members will be encouraged in order to minimize the travel burden.


Yosemite National Park, California

The High Sierra is in my Top 3 for backpacking locations in the Lower 48. The range is huge and intricate; the scenery is superb; the off-trail travel is blissful; road access is very limited; and the crowded, high-use areas are easy to leave behind. The range encompasses two famous National Parks — Yosemite and Sequoia-Kings Canyon — as well as “American’s Most Beautiful Trail,” the 224-mile John Muir Trail, which links these two parks.

The 2019 trips will be in Yosemite National Park, and the 5- and 7-day trips will follow sections of the newly minted Yosemite High Route. Sequoia-Kings is a worthy and convenient backup if wildfires or smoke are plaguing Yosemite during the trips. There, the longer trips will follow sections of the Kings Canyon High Basin Route.

Trailheads

The trips will start and finish in Tuolumne Meadows, the base camp for the Yosemite high country.

Getting there

Tuolumne Meadows is 3 hours from Reno, 3.5 hours from Fresno, 4 hours from the Bay Area, and 5 hours from Los Angeles. It can be accessed with a private car or public transit.

Carpooling among group members will be encouraged in order to minimize the travel burden.


West Virginia

As of February 19, Monongahela National Forest is reviewing my application to run trips in Seneca Creek and Dolly Sods. I have operated here before, and expect the application to be approved.

I offer trips here for two reasons. First, I genuinely enjoy the location. West Virginia is a rural and lightly inhabited state, and it’s backcountry areas are about as wild as the Appalachians get. Mid-May is a prime season here: it should be wonderfully green, and temperatures should be warm enough for refreshing swims in pristine mountain creeks.

Second, it’s reasonably accessible from many eastern metro areas. Imagine drawing a box with corners at New York City, Columbus, Knoxville, and Raleigh. Anything in that box is no more than about 5 hours away. If you want Appalachian-specific instruction and/or cannot justify the travel expenses and time for a Fundamentals course in California or Colorado, this is the location for you.

Getting there

The closest airports serve Washington DC, and are about two hours east. Use Baltimore-Washington (BWI), Dulles (IAD), or Reagan (DCA).

The town of Seneca Rocks is equidistant to Spruce Knob and Dolly Sods. It has basic services, including lodging, restaurants, and a small grocery store.


Alaska

The Brooks Range is the greatest wilderness in North America, and these trips are designed to be once-in-a-lifetime experiences. It was undoubtedly the most magnificent part of the Alaska-Yukon Expedition — at one point, I went over 600 miles and 24 days without crossing a road or seeing another human being.

The Brooks will redefine your concept of wilderness. The range is immense, about 1000 miles long and usually about 100 miles wide. There are no trails, save for those made by wildlife, notably caribou. It’s intersected by just one road, the Dalton Highway (aka Haul Road). And only one town sits firmly within the range, Anaktuvuk Pass, a native village with a population of about 350.

Our trips will be in Gates of the Arctic National Park, which encompasses much of the western Brooks Range.

Getting there

The groups will meet in Fairbanks. From there, we will fly to Bettles on a 9-passenger Cessna, and then from Bettles into the Brooks Range, on a 9-passenger Otter or two 5-passenger Beavers.

To exit, we will reverse our route. Or, if we plot our route to finish in Anaktuvuk Pass, we can fly directly to Fairbanks.

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