Hello from Utah - future GWT hiker

GramaNana

Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2021
Messages
13
Hi there, I am a 55+ woman living in Northern Utah who is planning a 100 mile multi-day hike for August 2021 with my husband along a section of the Great Western Trail. Sadly, the GWT site is shut down with no ETA for resurrection. So, it's been a struggle gathering info on the Utah sections of the GWT. I found a lovely thread on this forum by @Cody who posted several years back discussing his GWT hikes - along with great photos. I'm signing up for an account here so that I can connect with those who have hiked it, and gather more intel! I also look forward to getting any tips, trips and advice in general for backpacking and backcountry camping. My husband and I are avid day hikers and like to car-camp. But, we have never attempted a long backpacking adventure where we carry all of our gear for multiple days/nights, and set up camp in the wilderness. We dream of completing a thru-hike someday, such as the PCT [definitely a post-retirement adventure]. Until then, we are starting with overnights and section hikes. Thanks for letting me join!
 

Gew

New Member
Joined
Dec 27, 2020
Messages
3
Hi and welcome onboard, Utah, glad to have you here!

Also, I just say, the goals you and your SO is planning sounds really awesome. Love to keep up with your journey.
 

Bob

Trailmaster
Joined
Mar 3, 2013
Messages
2,635
Welcome....
I know the blm , the fs and the utah.com site has some info on it....
 

GramaNana

Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2021
Messages
13
Welcome to the site! What stretch of the GWT are you planning for August?
The only 100 mile stretch I can find with detailed info is from Kaysville to Heber - using the Wasatch 100 Trail Race maps, with topo and the turn by turn instructions. The race organizers have been really cool about letting me download everything from their site. So, that's the route I'm planning right now. At this point, I feel this would be the least likely option on the GWT for getting lost. However, I am concerned about the HUGE elevation gains and drops on that stretch. It's a bit daunting.
Our idea is to complete 100 miles in 6 days / 5 nights. It's the max time we can spare from work and life this summer, for various reasons. So, that means we need to cover 15-18 miles per/day. We walked many 25 - 30 mile days on the Camino de Santiago, but it certainly wasn't this kind of terrain or elevation. It seems that first day climbing up from Kaysville to the ridgeline is going to be a killer. It's 17.5 miles to the Bountiful B - but, maybe that's too ambitious? I honestly don't know at this point. And the climb up Lamb's Canyon to Brighton looks pretty brutal :thinking:also ... I'd like to find anyone who has made those climbs and done those stretches and let me know how many miles they were able to cover in one day. The race folks don't worry about mapping water sources, or camp locations, so I will need to figure those out, also! That's why I'm here. :)

I've been frustrated trying to find details about the entire GWT. So far, I've gathered limited info. I ordered a book that was written by a man who travelled the entire GWT on horseback [before he died]. Looking forward to reading it. There's been a few section hike reports on blogs - a few section hike YouTube videos. BLM website was confusing to me and didn't seem to have the entire route mapped. If you or any other folks here know of any other good sources I'm missing, please send them along! Thanks!!
 

GramaNana

Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2021
Messages
13
Hi and welcome onboard, Utah, glad to have you here!

Also, I just say, the goals you and your SO is planning sounds really awesome. Love to keep up with your journey.
Thanks! I've thought about doing some trail blogs or short videos as we prepare and then maybe filming some of our trek. I'll keep you posted.
 

LarryBoy

Hiker Trash
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Joined
Jan 4, 2015
Messages
2,473
The only 100 mile stretch I can find with detailed info is from Kaysville to Heber - using the Wasatch 100 Trail Race maps, with topo and the turn by turn instructions. The race organizers have been really cool about letting me download everything from their site. So, that's the route I'm planning right now. At this point, I feel this would be the least likely option on the GWT for getting lost. However, I am concerned about the HUGE elevation gains and drops on that stretch. It's a bit daunting.
Our idea is to complete 100 miles in 6 days / 5 nights. It's the max time we can spare from work and life this summer, for various reasons. So, that means we need to cover 15-18 miles per/day. We walked many 25 - 30 mile days on the Camino de Santiago, but it certainly wasn't this kind of terrain or elevation. It seems that first day climbing up from Kaysville to the ridgeline is going to be a killer. It's 17.5 miles to the Bountiful B - but, maybe that's too ambitious? I honestly don't know at this point. And the climb up Lamb's Canyon to Brighton looks pretty brutal :thinking:also ... I'd like to find anyone who has made those climbs and done those stretches and let me know how many miles they were able to cover in one day. The race folks don't worry about mapping water sources, or camp locations, so I will need to figure those out, also! That's why I'm here. :)

I've been frustrated trying to find details about the entire GWT. So far, I've gathered limited info. I ordered a book that was written by a man who travelled the entire GWT on horseback [before he died]. Looking forward to reading it. There's been a few section hike reports on blogs - a few section hike YouTube videos. BLM website was confusing to me and didn't seem to have the entire route mapped. If you or any other folks here know of any other good sources I'm missing, please send them along! Thanks!!
Yeah the GWT is more of a concept than an actual trail. I don't know of anyone who's done the whole thing on foot - not because it's not possible, but because it's not desirable. Sometimes the GWT is awesome singletrack trail - like thru most of the Salt Lake metro. But in other places, it's boring dirt road, or even US 89. In my opinion, the best way to approach the GWT is to see it as a corridor. Sometimes the GWT will be the best way forward, and sometimes it won't be. For example, if you're willing to contend with some very minor private property issues, you can stay on the ridge over Parleys Summit rather than dropping down into Lambs and having to climb back up to the Wasatch crest. Or if you're okay with some off-trail, you can trace the periphery of Brighton rather than having to drop down from Guardsman Pass down to the base of Brighton and have to climb all the way back up again.

To my knowledge, there are three people who have walked north/south thru Utah: Dirtmonger, Pepperflake, and myself. We all took different routes, but all used the GWT for significant stretches, with deviations from it when it didn't seem like the best way forward. I don't know if you're committed to the GWT as project/matter of purism to complete the whole thing (and that's totally fine if you are!), but I think that in order to do a long-distance hike on it, you're either gonna have to use it as a jumping-off point for your own adventures in mapping, or accept the fact that you're gonna be following sub-par routing some of the time.

There definitely aren't very good resources out there for the GWT specifically - certainly nothing that'll tell you where to get water or camp. In that sense (and in most senses, really) the PCT is loads easier than the GWT. On the back of my trek a few years ago however, I created a guide for the Deseret Hiking Route, with roughly parallels (and very often runs concurrent with) the GWT between Tropic UT and Grace ID. It's available here (with apologies for the blatant self-promotion).
 

LarryBoy

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Jan 4, 2015
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Re the race route and daily mileage... 25-30 mpd is a healthy pace on the Camino, even assuming you were carrying minimal gear/provisions. Obviously the mountains are going to be a lot harder, but if you're packed lightweight, it's not going to be *that* much harder. I could see 25-30 on the Camino translating just fine to 15-18 on the WF100 race route - again, as long as you're packed light. If you're packed heavy, there's gonna be some suffering involved, esp since you have a big climb on Day 1 when your pack is at its heaviest. Would you plan to resupply along your trek, or carry 5-6 days of food from the get-go?
 

GramaNana

Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2021
Messages
13
Re the race route and daily mileage... 25-30 mpd is a healthy pace on the Camino, even assuming you were carrying minimal gear/provisions. Obviously the mountains are going to be a lot harder, but if you're packed lightweight, it's not going to be *that* much harder. I could see 25-30 on the Camino translating just fine to 15-18 on the WF100 race route - again, as long as you're packed light. If you're packed heavy, there's gonna be some suffering involved, esp since you have a big climb on Day 1 when your pack is at its heaviest. Would you plan to resupply along your trek, or carry 5-6 days of food from the get-go?
@LarryBoy , this is all such great info above [both comments] thank you so much! We are not "married" to the GWT. You did a good job explaining that it isn't really a thru-hike. We don't have to stick exclusively to that trail - I'm just terrified of getting lost [we actually ended up getting turned around a LOT on the Camino and did so many extra kilometers we lost count!] We were "directionally challenged" in Spain - but, at least we ended up finding people who could help point us in the right direction. Might be lost for days in the woods if we get off trail...
We set our goal for a 100 mile trek in late Aug/early Sept for this year. That's the non-negotiable. Everything else is completely changeable.
Of course, when I googled "100 mile hikes in Utah" it instantly directed to me to the Highline Trail in the Unitas. After watching multiple nightmare videos complete with extreme weather and lightning/hail, etc...] we definitely said nope to that. But, since we are such noobs to mapping or navigating, we needed to find something someone else had paved the way and given directions on... so, that's how I fell on the Wasatch 100.
To tell you the truth, I'm open to all of your suggestions and I would really like to avoid those steep ups and downs - although, not sure what the rules are about hiking on private land... I don't want to do anything illegal or frowned on. Thank you for your book! I'm so glad you told me about it! This is exactly what I'm here for. :)
I think Millcreek Canyon is about half way ... Or, maybe Parleys? We will have a family member meet us in one of the canyons and bring us a resupply, and any other items we may need to swap out, etc. We don't want to try to carry 6 days worth of food. We've even discussed having people meet us twice, and then at the end. The pro to this route is that we will be close to home and close to people we know who can support us. We do need to learn about hiking as light as possible. We bought really nice backpacks from REI for the Camino - but, I've found that my Osprey is heavy. After a while on the Camino, we started using the pack service to send our packs [we totally overpacked] and just carrying light day packs. Of course we never had to worry about water sources or food and we always had a bed every night... so, this is all a very different experience. I have an extremely short torso. Even the small Osprey with the adjustable torso barely fits me. We have a nice REI tent that weighs 5 lb that we thought if we split it between us wouldn't weight too much to carry.... but, perhaps after doing a few overnights practicing with the gear we have we will be ready to change our minds and break the bank! :lol: I'll post gear questions in other places. For now,, the biggest focus is settling on our route!
 

GBrooks

Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2017
Messages
5
Hello GramaNana,

I have hiked the Highline trail several times in the past few years. It's a great trail that will definitely challenge you. It is not that scary though. There can be rain, snow, hail, lightning, etc., but if you're careful, there is nothing to be worried about. I plan on hiking it again this year somewhere around the end of August. I am looking for someone to go with as my trail buddy is moving this year and my wife doesn't want me going it alone. Let me know if you have any questions about the trail.
 

GramaNana

Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2021
Messages
13
Hello GramaNana,

I have hiked the Highline trail several times in the past few years. It's a great trail that will definitely challenge you. It is not that scary though. There can be rain, snow, hail, lightning, etc., but if you're careful, there is nothing to be worried about. I plan on hiking it again this year somewhere around the end of August. I am looking for someone to go with as my trail buddy is moving this year and my wife doesn't want me going it alone. Let me know if you have any questions about the trail.
Hi @GBrooks thanks for sharing that. It sounds like you are very experienced! How long does it take you to hike the Highline? Do you cover all 100 miles? What is your preferred starting point?
 

GBrooks

Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2017
Messages
5
Hello GrandmaNana,

I really like the Highline trail. I've hiked it 8 times since 2012. I know a lot of hikers hike the trail a lot faster that I do. But, I hike it in 9 days, taking my time, enjoying the scenery and giving my body time to recover each day. Also, keeping the days somewhat shorter, usually gets me into camp before the afternoon thunderstorms show up. I have always started at Hacking Lake and head west. It is my thought that the passes are easier heading westbound. That is somewhere around 80 - 85 miles. At my speed, doing all 100 miles would require another day or two of food and more time off work to hike it.
 
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