Saturday, July 11, 2009

Types of Hikes

So many choices, what to do?

Loop hike
Point-to-point / shuttle

How do you make the decision?

Logistically speaking, the loop hike and out-and-back are the easiest.

A loop hike is what it sounds like, you start at a trailhead, start hiking in one direction, and you make a loop and arrive at the same place you started. This has always been my favorite type of hike because I don't like seeing the same stuff I just saw. Since you are making a loop, you are always seeing new sights.

After speaking with a National Park Service Park Ranger, though, she made me realize that an out-and-back can provide the same sense of seeing new sights. An out-and-back, again, is exactly what it sounds like. You start at the trailhead and hike to a stopping point, then, turn around and retrace your steps. How can you get the sense of seeing new sights? When you are headed out, you are facing one direction and will typically see things from that vantage point only. Sure, you may turn back occasionally, but for the most part, you will see things going out in a particular way. Coming back will give you a whole new visual experience. After my talk with the Park Ranger, I have a whole new outlook on the out-and-back hike.

The most difficult hike to pull off logistically is the point-to-point / shuttle hike. This type of hike starts at one trailhead and finishes at a different location. In order to accoplish this, you need to prepare ahead of time how will you handle transportation from one trailhead to another. In some of the more established park systems, such as the National Parks, they have free shuttles that run on a scheduled basis that can get you where you need to be. Oftentimes, you will need to arrange for paid shuttle services. Check with the park for recommended vendors. Another option in some of the parks, including Grand Tetons National Park, hitchhiking is allowed. Finally, you can use the two-car method. Park one at each trailhead and you are good to go. If you are renting cars. It definitely increases the costs, though.

One other type of hike, not mentioned above, is what is known as a thru-hike. A thru-hike is a special hike. It is one that is reserved for those not faint of heart. Those individuals who wish to strap on a pack for hundreds and thousands of miles, will be doing a thru-hike. There are many "long trails" in the US. The big three are the 2,160 mile Applachian Trail (AT), the 3,100 mile Continental Divide Trail (CDT), and the 2,655 mile Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). There are many others as well, but these are the most commonly known and attempted. Many people will spend 4-6 months on a thru-hike. It takes a lot of planning and preparation to pull one of these off. I'm not sure I will ever do it, but if you have the time, energy, money and desire, have fun. I'm sure it would be a fantastic time.

Monday, July 6, 2009

What I like about camping in Rocky Mountain National Park

This is my first blog post ever! My family trail name is FireMan (explained later and by this photo).

Here are some of the things I like most about camping in Rocky Mountain National Park with my family.
  • The mornings in the park were nice and cool and the coffee was warm
  • We could see Long's Peak from our campsite
  • There were no bugs!
  • I got to light the fires, which is where I got my name FireMan
  • It never really got hot, the temperature was awesome
  • The hiking was a ton of fun
  • The nights were extremely peaceful because there were no bugs chirping, like the crickets back home
  • I got to help cook breakfast (see picture below)

We did two hikes on our campout. I enjoyed the hike up to Dream Lake. It was really steep, but we got to play in the snow. My hands froze digging in the snow. After a while, they started burning.

I really liked the hike up to cub lake. It was a 5 mile roundtrip. The views at cub lake were great. We could see water, trees, mountains and a ton of animals. We got to play on the rocks and had a snack by the lake.

I would love to go back to RMNP, possibly for a backpacking trip.