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how far in advance can i realistically plan a hiking trip?

Need a climbing partner? Trying to form a hiking group for an outing?
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Re: how far in advance can i realistically plan a hiking trip?

Postby MuchosPixels » Wed Apr 13, 2011 6:21 pm

Hi costanta:

I just returned from a trip to Colorado. I love skiing so I combined my ski trip with my hiking trip.

I flew in March 24th and drove to Breckenridge that same day. The first night I felt the altitude a bit (9600ft), didnt sleep well, but drank a lot of water took and Advil and was fine. I rented skis the 25th and went of skiing with my cousin that same day (up to 11,500 ft). Skied the next 4 days after that so the 29th I dropped off my cousin in Denver and went off to Manitou Springs to Hike Barr Trail. I felt good every day. I did not have any alcohol at all. My cousin did have a few beers every day and paid for it. The last day my cousin didnt ski, bad headache.

I planned this trip weeks in advance but had ben reading about the trail for quite a while. I amassed all the necessary gear including a water resistant map just in case. Gear selection is CRUCIAL when hiking SOlO like I was. No one is there with backup gear and one has to carry EVERYTHING. That makes ones pack heavier than it should be since one can share a water filter, stove and cooking gear, fuel and even tent with several folks and split the load.

Being Solo also adds a bit of stress and that wears on you a bit. However, me choosing a well travelled trail and being prepared, specially with the route (I looked at a lot of pictures online and read many trip reports) put me at ease. Enough that I really enjoyed the whole hike.

I hiked up to Barr Camp the 30th, made a summit attempt the 31th and hiked down from Barr Camp april 1st.

On the summit attempt I encountered snow and ice but the microspikes worked well and I was comfortable using them even though it was my first time. Above timberline the wind really started gusting with fierce gusts every few minutes barreling down the east face straight at me. I was off trail (in winter the trail is gone above treeline and drifted in) but made some really good route choices and always looked back for references. I had to make the call at 13k ft to go down after being knocked down by the wind a few times. I could have proceded but it was risky. Being alone one has to make calls like that. That can make the difference between having fun and being stranded with an injury up high, alone. I made it to camp ok and wasnt gassed at all.

The altitude really was not a factor during the hike. I felt 100% all the time. Sleeping at night was sorta scary due to sleeping alone and the wind whipping the trees and making funny sounds all night. One has to trust that everything is gonna be fine and just get some shuteye. Being warm with the right gear helps greatly.

I did a LOT of research on gear a LOT. And it really paid off. My pack was not that heavy (maybe 35 lbs max with 3L of water and food for 2 1/2 days). I did take extra baselayers and socks, I couldve done with less but they contributed to my comfort and also didnt use my toiletries except the paper towel and wipes. My Down Parka and down sleeping bag were much warmer than I needed but I was never cold. So cutting stuff there and there I maybe couldve saved 3 lbs maybe a tad more.

I had never carried a pack that heavy. Ever. I felt totally fine. I hiked at about 2mph average and made the 6.5 mile and 4,000 ft vertical rise of the first day with zero issues in about 3:45 including stops. I always went slower than I could, always. That helped.

I only hurt when going down the last day. I rushed it a bit and my feet hurt at the end but was fine. Going uphill is MUCH easier for me.

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Re: how far in advance can i realistically plan a hiking trip?

Postby asbochav » Wed Apr 13, 2011 7:30 pm

costanta wrote: more than anything i want to hike and enjoy the mountains and the views. i've decided i'm ok with just doing day hikes and sleeping in my car or pitching up a small tent next to my car.

i chose the easier more straightforward hikes for my first experience in the colorado mountains. the altitude is the main concern but since i did decently back in march when i first visited, i will be as well trained and mentally prepared as I can be.

i'm coming the sec week in sept to enjoy nice weather and not too much snow from what i can tell from reading other's trip reports.



Lots of us camp [usually for free] near the trailheads so I think you will do fine doing that. I think it would be hard to get by without a car. Something with decent clearance would be best. You can often find partners the evening before the hike at the trailheads, especially at weekends. I agree with previous posters that your pack should not weigh more than c. 25% of your body weight. Living in Florida, you may be surprised at how cold it can be in CO in September, especially at any altitude. Don't skimp on warm clothing, sleeping bag etc! Watch weather forecasts carefully. There will be just over 12 hours of daylight - make the most of it by starting at or before sunrise. Don't get too ambitious and try to do too much - you are here to enjoy yourself and absorb the fabulous Colorado environment, right?

I bet you have a great trip.

Roger [used to live in Florida]
Eppur si muove
Clapton is God

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Re: how far in advance can i realistically plan a hiking trip?

Postby DaveSwink » Thu Apr 14, 2011 3:41 am

[quote="costanta"]so far i plan to solo and want to summit:
mt elbrus[/quote]

Mount Elbrus is an 18K peak in Russia. I assume you meant Mount Elbert. :D

One way to stay in relative comfort cheaply would be to stay at hostels. The Leadville Hostel (www.leadvillehostel.com) is clean, cheap and very close to Massive, Elbert, and many of the Sawatch peaks. They tend to book up in the season, so you would want to make reservations early. Oh, and bring ear plugs.

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Re: how far in advance can i realistically plan a hiking trip?

Postby costanta » Thu Apr 14, 2011 6:57 am

dswink wrote:
costanta wrote:so far i plan to solo and want to summit:
mt elbrus


Mount Elbrus is an 18K peak in Russia. I assume you meant Mount Elbert. :D

One way to stay in relative comfort cheaply would be to stay at hostels. The Leadville Hostel (www.leadvillehostel.com) is clean, cheap and very close to Massive, Elbert, and many of the Sawatch peaks. They tend to book up in the season, so you would want to make reservations early. Oh, and bring ear plugs.


ha ha ya i just saw today when i was telling someone else that i had the wrong name in my head

its mt elbert lol
i've got too many mountains on the brain

other's have mentioned the hostel idea, but honestly i'm not into being around big groups of people. i'm the type of person that prefers to be alone or with just a couple other people.

thanks for the tip though

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Re: how far in advance can i realistically plan a hiking trip?

Postby peter303 » Thu Apr 14, 2011 8:53 am

Five Denver area REI stores rent camping equipment with the most complete selection at the one called the downtown flagship. You pay 5-10 cents per dollar of purchase cost by renting. The selection and prices were listed online the last time I looked.

You can engage in "car camping" in the Buena Vista and Leadville 14ers. That is you can make lots of interesting hikes from drive-in camping , including fifteen 14ers in those areas. Plus a stove is optional. You can drive back to town for a cooked meal and shower, and eat cold food for other meals at the campground and during hikes. There are both "free" just pull off the road camping, and developed campgrounds. Beware, its starts getting crowded at camping spots as the trees turn colors between Sept 5 to 20.

The frost season starts about August 15 above treeline (11,000'). So read up on the technique of layering to deal with temperature ranges between 20 and 80 degrees you'll see at this time of year. Layering will save you clothing money because you can recycle some of your winter Florida clothing. There may even patches of fresh snow by early September, but usually nothing too daunting.

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