Trip Planning Puzzle for March

McKee80

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Feb 9, 2017
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217
So, I've been challenged to find a trip that meets a myriad of conditions. My wife, bless her heart, wants to take me on a backpacking trip for my 50th in March (or maybe April). I'm thinking it would have to be in the southwest. I've spent many hours making lists of trips, but none in areas that are doable in spring. She has Reynauds, so cold won't work. We've gone on local summer overnights before. Among the "wants":
  • the hotter the better, the more above freezing at night the better
  • 5-8ish miles a day (basecamp is good, maybe better). No killer elevation
  • 2 or 3 nights
  • some solitude
  • don't have to pack in water
  • minimal bugs
I saw some Superstition Wilderness trips. And Gila Wilderness. Grand Canyon might be too cold. I don't want to go to Big Bend. Does anyone have any ideas for areas I should look into?
 

b.stark

Forever Wandering
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Apr 8, 2015
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I did the Gila Wilderness in March several years ago (Spring break). It got very cold at night when we were there (ice in water bottles most mornings). Pretty warm during the day time. It's a beautiful place though. Betting the weather in March there is about like anywhere else in March, have to watch it close before you go. It snowed while we were driving in, but we had some daytime highs during the hike that were probably 80s or close to it.
 

Stephanie B

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Dec 7, 2017
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There was a large fire in the Supes this year that could affect your experience if you go there. But the temps would be great. Dutchman State Park might be a good resource for you as well as the Tonto NF office in Mesa.
 

LarryBoy

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Jan 4, 2015
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Man that's a pretty stringent list of requirements. If a destination truly satisfied all those requirements, you definitely wouldn't be finding solitude there!

The closest thing I can think of is Joshua Tree. It doesn't satisfy the water requirement (you have to pack it all in, or cache yourself some at a road crossing), but everything else fits like a glove. Mostly easy walking, pretty trees, reasonable temps (keep in mind you'll be about 2k higher than nearby Twentynine Palms, so check out climate data for it and adjust accordingly).

Agree with @b.stark re the Gila - I had frozen water bottles in mid-April. Probably not a good fit.
Respectfully disagree with @IntrepidXJ re Aravaipa - it's awesome, but I imagine that not-especially-warm water would be unpleasant, given Reynaud's.

Maybe I missed it, but are you for-sure committed to the desert SW? Because if not, Florida sounds like the place to be. Seriously! The Suwanee River section of the Florida Trail is great - super interesting plants and animals, awesome forests, etc. Satisfies all your listed requirements. There will be some bugs at dawn and dusk, but you can totally eat in your tent and just hide from the mosquitoes, so it's not a big deal. Bring DEET.
 

Reef&Ruins

Colorado Plateau is calling...
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Feb 3, 2017
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I second Joshua Tree as a recommendation. Hotels in California are way more expensive than the similar ones elsewhere in the SW (thinking of your before and after the backpack). For example, the Rodeway Inn in 29 palms is like what you'd pay for a Comfort Suites elsewhere.
Additionally I also second the Superstition general area as well. Lost Dutchman would be a great basecamp and hotels (again for the before and after) in the Phoenix area are generally pretty reasonable.
 

wsp_scott

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I'm in the process of planning an Everglades kayak trip for December, any time Nov - beginning of April has great weather in SW FL, the bugs and heat start to build in March, but frozen fingers would not be an issue.
 

scoags

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Jan 8, 2017
Messages
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I was in the Gila Feb/March 2019, and the weather was above freezing overnight (it was actually perfect), so its possible to have a warm spell there for sure. I do think the Gila is a good option, though, if youre only packing in 5 miles or so, and the weather cooperates. There should be plenty of water.

On the other hand, if you are wiling to car camp there, you can have a great basecamp to do several great hikes. Camping near the Ruins National Monument (cant remember the exact name) has several trails right by there and good car camping. I drove in very late and got a spot no problem. Obviously weather is variable, and if you want to pack in, then the (many) river crossings there might not be favorable for medical reasons.

Hadn't thought of FL but that sounds like fun too! Good luck.
 

McKee80

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Feb 9, 2017
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So, this changed a bit. I convinced her to wait until summer, and I was able to line up a trip with some backcountry, some semi-backcountry, and some frontcountry and show her one of my favorite places - Glacier.

Day 1 - drive across Going to the Sun Road, staying at Rising Sun
Day 2 - hike out of Cutbank Trailhead, camp at Atlantic Creek, dayhike to Medicine Grizzly Lake (or Triple Divide Pass)
Day 3 - hike to Morningstar Lake and lounge, stay the night
Day 4 - back to car, visit Two Medicine, stay at Lake McDonald Lodge
Day 5 - hike to Sperry Chalet, stay the night
Day 6 - hike to Sperry Glacier, stay at Sperry Chalet
Day 7 - out and back to Spokane

It took all of my trip planning powers, but I feel good about it :). Thanks for all the help, rest assured some of these places ended up on my personal list!
 
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