I plan to release a First Edition of the Pfiffner Traverse Guide in or before May 2018, before the high country season begins. In the meantime, I have made available a “Pre-Edition.” Currently, it contains about three-fourths of the information that the First Edition will eventually have.
If you purchase the Pre-Edition, I will contact you when the First Edition becomes available, and you will be upgraded for free. Ditto for a Second Edition, which would be a 2019 project.
In its current state (as of November 27, 2017), the Pre-Edition includes:
- Guidebook — Part I — Before You Go
- Guidebook — Part II — As You Go (for about two-thirds of the Primary Route, plus a few Alternates)
- Topographic maps for the Primary Route and its Alternate Routes
- Datasheets for the Primary Route, nine Section Hikes, and all Alternate Routes
- Cheat sheet for Rocky Mountain National Park campsites
- Overview list of early-season hazards (online only)
The text below describes the expected contents of the First Edition. The details may change some, but probably not much — this is my third high route guide, and by this point I have it mostly figured out.
In the Pfiffner Traverse section of this website, I have posted extensive information to help you decide if this route is right for you. If you’re on this page, I assume you wish to proceed. Your next step is to download the Pfiffner Traverse Guide, which includes must-have resources for thru- and section-hiking it.
The Guide includes a complete and excellent Mapset, with separate print-ready PDF’s for the Primary Route and its Alternates, and each of the Section Hikes. The maps were developed using CalTopo, using as a base map the USFS 2016 tiles, which is an updated iteration of the gold standard USGS 7.5-minute topographic series.
The maps are so extensively annotated that you will probably refer to the Guidebook text only for the most complex sections. Intentionally, I did not draw a specific line of travel on the map — I didn’t want to steal your fun by telling you exactly where to go.
When printed on 11 x 17 paper, the map scale will be its native 1:24,000. Printing on smaller paper will compress the topographic detail, perhaps to the point of being illegible. Contour intervals are 40 feet.
The Guidebook has three parts:
Part 1 (“Before you go”) has information to help you plan your trip, e.g. transportation, permitting, direction of travel, resupply, recommended equipment. This information is in addition to the preparatory materials at the mini-site.
Part 2 and Part 3 (“As you go”) are complementary to the Mapset. They offer general information and context, and in-depth route information for sections that really need. The Primary Route (thru-hike) and its Alternate Routes are described in Part 2, and the Section Hikes and their Alternate Routes are described in Part 3.
Part 1, 2, and 3 are provided as a separate PDF file, designed for printing on Letter 8.5 x 11 inch paper. Part 1 need not be printed since it has minimal or no relevance in the field, but you may prefer a physical copy to read and annotate before your trip. Thru-hikers should print Part 2. Section-hikers should print from Part 2 and Part 3 the pages that are relevant to their itinerary.
These quick-reference spreadsheets list the incremental and cumulative distances and vertical change between key landmarks. They are extremely useful in planning your trip, scheduling your day, and gauging your pace. Databooks for the Primary Route, eight Section Hikes, and Alternates are included, as well as for a dozen other possible Section Hikes that I did not consider as “classic.”
I have included a GPX file with very limited information. You’ll find waypoints for trailheads and for select high points, and a track that will help you identify the topographic map tiles you need to download onto your handheld GPS or smartphone. It does not include a track for the recommended route — that’s for you to figure out.
Rocky Mountain Campsite Planner
The first 30 miles of the Pfiffner Traverse are in Rocky Mountain National Park, which requires the use of designated backcountry campsites in the interest of resource protection. I have created a “cheat sheet” to help you plan your itinerary through the park. It lists all campsites on or near the route, with mileages between them.
If thru- or section-hiking the Pfiffner Traverse in June or July after a normal or wet winter, snow hazards will be encountered. An overview list is included with the Guide; it is also embedded in a discussion about crampons and ice axes. Part 2 of the Guidebook (“As you go”) contains a few additional details.
With a decent internet connection, the entire Guide can be easily downloaded. The files have been compressed into a single zipped file and must be extracted using standard Windows or Apple software before accessing. It’s less than 200 MB in size.
If you need a copy on DVD, please contact me with your mailing address, and attach a receipt of purchase.
If your access expires before you have had a chance to download the files, of if you lose the files at some point, contact me so that I can renew your access.
Resources not included
In addition to the detailed set of topographic maps included with the Guide, I would also recommend obtaining NG Trails Illustrated maps #200, #102, and #103, as well as digital maps of the area stored on a GPS or smartphone. Read more.