Newbie looking to start backpacking in April

maniakmedic

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Mar 1, 2013
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Hi everyone! I may not have introduced myself so well in the noob thread, so I'll throw a bit more in here. I'm looking to start backpacking as it's something I've always wanted to do, just never quite got around to it until now. I haven't really been camping in years and I've missed it so I'm really excited to get back into it. I'm currently putting together backpacking equipment for myself and my two dogs with my ultimate goal being at least one ultra-light trip by the end of summer. But for now, I'm a noob so I'll take all the help and suggestions I can get.

Now to get down to the real purpose for this post: I need help finding a good overnight hike for a noob with two dogs I can do in April. I'll have to drive south (I'm in SLC) but that's fine. I'm willing to put some miles on the car to not freeze my first time out.

Just so you've got an idea what I'm dealing with, my right leg still hasn't quite built up the strength it once had since I had an ACL repair, so gentle uphills and downhills and fairly level ground is what I'm looking at to start. As the summer goes on and I build my legs up again I'll look at doing more strenuous stuff. And since I'll have my dogs with me, the more water there is available on the trail, the better.

I really hope you guys can help me out. I really do appreciate any help you can give me.
 

blueeyes

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Jan 17, 2012
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If you have had ACL repair and it is new I highly recommend hiking poles! My knee swelled for sometime after surgery but it does get better. Downhill is the worst. I have no other info for you as I am new to backpacking myself.
 

Nick

Spiral out.
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Welcome to backcountrypost! I have some good advice for noob backpacks with dogs. Heading out for a little weekend trip so I'll have to post in a couple days, but a great one to start thinking about is the upper Escalante Gorge. Really easy hiking, mostly level, super dog-friendly. It was the place where I first backpacked.

Some of my trip reports through the area:

This one we went from the town to the bridge with a layover in Death Hollow:
http://backcountrypost.com/forum/index.php?threads/the-escalante-river-gorge-death-hollow.578/

This one we went down to Willow Gulch first then came back up and did an overnighter on the Escalante:
http://backcountrypost.com/forum/index.php?threads/willow-gulch-escalante-river-gorge.582/

And the trip report from my very first backpack:
http://backcountrypost.com/forum/index.php?threads/my-first-backpacking-trip-escalante-04.1718/

Oh, and x2 on what blueeyes says about trekking poles. I'm still recovering from a wicked meniscus repair from back in November. Hiked 500+ miles last year and I've been on my butt the last three months from it. Went out on my first real hike a couple weeks ago and the trekking poles were invaluable.
 

Jen

Formerly colefeet
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Joined
Feb 7, 2012
Messages
163
trekking poles!! and get the book "allen and mike's really cool backpacking book" if you want an entertaining, quick reference for everything from gear to food to map reading that is easy to thumb thru, has good advice, and won't feel like work to look through.
 

Dave

Broadcaster, formerly "ashergrey"
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I guess I'm an outlier in that I hate using poles.
 

Nick

Spiral out.
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Aug 9, 2007
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I guess I'm an outlier in that I hate using poles.

I wouldn't say your an outlier. I hate having them in my hands and usually only use them on alpine trips with steep ascents/descents. But post knee-surgery they can be a life saver for taking a bit of the load off that week knee.
 

blueeyes

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Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Messages
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I wouldn't say your an outlier. I hate having them in my hands and usually only use them on alpine trips with steep ascents/descents. But post knee-surgery they can be a life saver for taking a bit of the load off that week knee.

What Nick said! Especially if your going to add 20-30 extra pounds on your back. The knee will not be happy but using the poles will help immensely. Take Aleve with you!
 

maniakmedic

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Mar 1, 2013
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It's actually been a couple years since I had the surgery, I've just been really bad about babying my knee until very recently (I've injured it twice and I'm petrified of injuring it again; I'm trying to work through that). The last time I visited Yellowstone to show a friend who had never been Old Faithful, we went on a very short jaunt up a hill nearby and I was almost in tears on the way down. I hate downhills but I know much of the pain will disappear when my legs are stronger.

I just really don't want to reenact my outdoors training last summer; I was absolutely miserable due to the amount of crap I was required to carry in a crappy Alice pack (I hate those things). I want to push myself, but I also want to enjoy myself (and I think I would have enjoyed myself last summer if I'd been able to carry my own bag with my own, lighter gear; to be honest I was really surprised just how well I ended up holding up through the whole thing).

I don't know that I want to rely on poles, but I'll definitely keep them in mind. And I appreciate the book mention. I'll look it up and see what more I can do to prepare. I know I need to do a refresher on map and compass reading.

Now to get my car prepared for a long road trip...
 

Jen

Formerly colefeet
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Joined
Feb 7, 2012
Messages
163
i have knees that don't bother me most of the time, but the first time i visited a canyon and went 2,000 feet down the side of one i was in tears too, and bought my first set of trekking poles. they keep my knees from giving out on me and keep me whole for my day to day life. yes, they are a pain to carry, but they make everything less painful, and now that i have a tent that will set up using them they are multipurpose ;) i happen to have weak joints and will continue to cart my poles around with me everywhere so that i'm safer and faster. trying to go downhill without them takes about 3 times as long.

read the book and get solid in your knowledge, then read ultralight articles about how to turn that knowledge towards cutting weight. above all else keep yourself healthy and safe while you have the most fun ever!
 

Aldaron

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Jun 16, 2012
Messages
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My wife has bad knees, also. She didn't like carrying poles, either, but she pushed through it, and now she swears they help her knees. I think poles are like anything else: get past the newness and you'll get used to them.

As for trails, Hurricane Wash is a nice, easy trail down in Escalante. If you have the time, you can connect it to Coyote Gulch without all of the descending needed to hit Coyote from Crack in the Rock.
 

Yvonne

I lava it!!!
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Joined
Jan 19, 2012
Messages
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I had a severe knee injury some years back and I was more than happy to have trekking poles for the first few trips.
I totally agree with everything what Nick and Chere said and these poles can really be a live saver for your knees. Especially when you're not having gained your full strength back. Especially down hill can be really hard on your knee and if your muscles get weak the poles can help you to prevent a stumble or even worse a fall.

After a full season of strenuous hiking and quite a few backpacking trips I'm not using my poles anymore. But at the beginning of last year's season I was really happy to have them.
 

maniakmedic

New Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2013
Messages
4
One thing I do have to say I like about poles is that they serve a multi-purpose function should I be backpacking with a tarp instead of a traditional tent. I'll have to take a trip to REI and see how they feel.

This is exciting! I'm stoked to finally be making plans to get out and see Utah. And when it warms up a bit I'll be glad to see more of Idaho (my home state), Wyoming, and Montana. And at some point next year (no time this year) I'm planning on taking a couple of weeks to drive to Mt. Rushmore, hitting some decent hikes along the way there and back (if you know of any particularly good ones I'm up for suggestions).
 
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