(Updated Regularly) My Summer 2016 Backpacking Thread

muir_mountain

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Joined
Apr 16, 2016
Messages
121
First off, this is just my personal thread of my summer 2016 trip. I quit my job in late May after saving up some money, and I'm traveling all over the Rocky Mountains (and southern Utah) until the end of September. I'll be solo for most of it, but I'll have some friends and family join me for about a month of it.

Because the majority of my summer will be spent backpacking, I felt this was the best place for my thread. Much of the first couple weeks will be car camping, but don't fret...
I plan on taking a bunch of backpacking trips ranging from 4 days to 2 weeks, with a day or two in between to resupply and rest up.

Again, this is just a thread for you guys to keep track of my progress. I'm not going to write detailed reports just yet; I'll make seperate and proper ones of the select best trips of my summer.

Enjoy!

Night of May 27th, car camping with a close friend just outside Needles District, Canyonlands. On the 28th, we hiked to Chessler Park and back.
Night of May 28th, car camping just outside Moab. Slept in the back of the car...

My real trip started on June 5th. I drove from Boulder, CO to Capitol Reef National Park, and hiked Sulfur Creek. Beautiful!
I got started at 3pm and got back to the car around 7:30. Luckily a nice couple gave me a ride back from the Visitor Center to my car!
Oh, and I didn't see anyone else hiking it, surprisingly.
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Here's the first waterfall. It was a shock to me to actually have to rock climb around it. I was fully expecting a "trail" the whole way:
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I car camped that night in Dixie nf in the mountains above Boulder, UT. All the Aspen groves are incredible.
Over June 6-8th, I drove to the Boulder Mail Trailhead and hiked the Boulder Mail Trail to Death Hollow, and hiked all the way down to the Escalante Trailhead. I had to walk at least 3 miles up the road before a nice couple gave me a lift back to the trailhead turnoff. I'm very grateful for that! So the nights of June 6 and 7 were spent in Death Hollow.

The canyons of the Escalante greatly impressed me.
Here's me looking down on Death:
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It felt like a mini Grand Canyon! Of course pictures don't do any justice, especially phone ones. I decided to leave my nice camera in the car because of the water danger. The decision was made easier since I've got a waterproof case on my phone.
Taking my 1st swim in Death Hollow...what a blast:
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Before I continue, let me say I didn't see anyone else for over 2 days. I had this entire beautiful Canyon to myself.
Here's my 1st campsite, about 2 miles down from the Boulder Mail Trail. I'm glad I didn't bring a tent because it allowed me to bring other luxuries like a chair and heavy book:
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Since I was going solo, I was able to really get in the "Zone." Another way to put it is "getting rid of my ego." It is a humbling experience, and one I feel every person would benefit from.
Day 2 in Death Hollow was the best. I went through the most scenic sections and took my time to stop by several swimming holes.
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Every successive spot was the greatest natural swimming hole I'd seen up until that point, culminating in a narrow section of Death Hollow I named "the Zen Pools." Carved into the mossy rock bottom of the canyon were two main pools. The first was a large, curved swimming hole at least 10 feet deep, with a couple of small fish in it. The second pool, right next to the first, was a perfect oval "hot tub" about 3 feet deep for relaxing. Not to mention this setting was right next to a white, sandy beach and lots of green grass and trees! It was the most idyllic zen-like place I've ever had the fortune of seeing. Here's to relaxing in the "hot tub" Zen pool:
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I set up camp just upstream from the Zen Pools and did some stretching and meditation.

The 3rd day I hiked out, and figured it was about 12 miles of actual hiking. Unfortunately, my phone's camera glass was foggy from being in the water, so I didn't get many good pictures on the way out.
Overall, definitely the best solo backpacking trip I've done...so far! Total mileage 28ish.

The nights of June 8 and 9 were spent car camping near Bryce Canyon National Park, and I've been day hiking there. I did the Fairyland Loop on June 9th, HIGHLY recommended (about 8 miles).
Here's a few pictures from that hike:
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On June 10, I hiked the Navajo Loop and Peek-a-boo Loop in Bryce Canyon! Another amazing hike of about 6 miles.
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***edit 7pm June 14.
The night of June 10 was spent with amazing company! I got to meet @Nick, @Artemus, and @neiloro ! We got to talk around a campfire about backpacking stories, the movement of the stars, alien life, our existence, and theories about Mercury in retrograde. Good stuff! I wish I had a picture.

June 11, I drove the hour and a half from Bryce to Zion. I went on a 7-mile off-trail hike up one of the side canyons off the east entrance road. Unfortunately, I must have picked the wrong one, because it was miserable, with no good views to pay off. Oh well. I'd like to forget that one...

June 12, I hiked up to Observation Point in Zion. It was more strenuous than I expected. Whew! But at least it had an amazing view. (A quick question for @Nick how do I post Panoramic photos?).
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June 13, I hiked Angels Landing:
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I just decided to meditate atop the rock pillar on Angels Landing. That brought some attention, haha.
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And if you haven't noticed already, I enjoy sitting on places with lots of exposure...
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June 14, I hiked the Narrows. Yes the legendary narrows, the Disney-World crowded narrows. Ughhhh.
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That concludes the first section of my trip, the Utah National Parks Tour (yup, hiked in all of 'em)! Tomorrow, (the 15th) I'll be headed north through Salt Lake to a little-known mountain range in Idaho called The Italian Peaks...

UPDATE June 25:
I finally made it to Jackson WY, and I'm getting ready for my Wyoming backcountry adventures. But now I've gotta get you guys up to speed on the amazing adventures in Idaho I just had... Hope you enjoy!

June 15, I drove from Zion up to Salt Lake City and was blessed to stay at @Artemus place for the night. I helped prepare Risotto, a delicious Italian dish, using a new recipe Art found. And fittingly enough, right before I drove to the Italian Peaks in Idaho! It was great spending time with Art and his wife Becky, and I got to take them on a Google Earth tour of all my future trips this summer. Thanks again.

On June 16, I drove north past Idaho Falls to a town called Dubois, and after another hour on mostly dirt roads, I made it to Divide Creek beneath the Italian Peaks. (If any of you want more detailed beta, feel free to PM me.)
I hiked about 7 miles up the trail to Divide Creek Lake. It even had a picnic table for snacking and cooking my meals :). I made the lake my base camp for 3 nights, and took a day hike on the 17th over the continental divide into Montana. Yup, my first time in Montana was hiking to it on this trip! How many of you can say that? That day hike (to the heads of Nikolai and Deadman creeks) was the highlight of the trip and highly recommended.

But honestly, I was overall disappointed with the Italian Peaks. Motorcycles are allowed on all the trails. They tear up the land and create seperate "social" trails even if only one bike has been there. Most of the hillsides were eyesores because of the numerous "trails" crossing them, and every "off trail" drainage that should have been pristine had obvious signs of use and abuse.
Idaho has a totally different culture and respect (lack of) for backcountry places. Which is sad.
Scenery wise, the average of what I saw was a 7 /10. The day hike to upper Deadman Creek in Montana was an 8, and probably worth going to.
But sadly, I wouldn't recommend the Italian Peaks to anyone on BCP. If you go in the middle of the week (avoid weekends), and are looking for an isolated place to backpack, then MAYBE it's worth going to. But honestly there are better options in just Idaho.
On the border of Idaho and Montana above Divide Creek Lake, looking southwest into Deadman Creek Valley:
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Near the top of point 10,529:
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Reflection in Divide Creek Lake:
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I got back to my car on June 19 and drove the 2 hours back to Idaho Falls. Hate to admit it, but I gave in and rented a hotel that night. So -1 bag night... Oh well, bite me :p.

June 21-24 I did a 20 mile backpacking trip in Idaho's Lost River Range. Boy, the Lost Rivers blew me away! Not only in scenery, but they kicked my ass! Yes, only 20 miles... And also 7,000 feet of elevation gain, mostly off-trail through the most rugged country ever. I definitely earned my views on this one :) (again, if you're interested in more beta, feel free to PM me).

Looking down on the Shadow Lakes Basin:
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Lower Shadow Lake:
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A series of waterfalls in Long Lost Creek. Seriously, there were at least 20 waterfalls in the valley, ranging from 3-40+ feet high.
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2 elk enjoying their day in upper Long Lost Valley:
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Of course pictures don't do justice. I loved the "batman" rock formation at the head of the valley:
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Near the 11,000 foot pass between Long Lost Creek and Wet Creek (Nolan Lake). Thankfully I was able to walk ON the snow rather than miserable postholing:
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And finally, Nolan Lake. After this, I walked down Wet Creek about 4 miles to my car:
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Overall, I recommend the Lost Rivers for backpacking, and I'll be back someday for further exploration. But be warned: hiking here is mostly off-trail and not for the faint of heart. Scenery 8.5/10

Please follow this link to stay tuned! I'll be headed to the Gros Ventre, Absarokas, and possibly the Wind Rivers in the coming weeks...
 
Last edited:

muir_mountain

Wilderness Seeker
Joined
Apr 16, 2016
Messages
121
Subscribed! This is gonna be fun to follow. Thanks for taking the time to let us all in on your adventure Gabe.

Thank YOU for being an awesome reader! It'll keep me motivated knowing a few people are interested in my travels. :) I am keeping a Journal, and who knows? I may even write a book when this is all said and done.

Don't forget about that trip in September, I'd like to meet you!
 

muir_mountain

Wilderness Seeker
Joined
Apr 16, 2016
Messages
121
This thread will be awesome. Looking forward to seeing your trips!


One of my favorite Southern UT dayhikes!
Thanks! It was quite an impressive hike!
 

muir_mountain

Wilderness Seeker
Joined
Apr 16, 2016
Messages
121
UPDATE, June 14, 7pm.
 

leatherman

Huh?
Joined
Jan 24, 2012
Messages
138
little-known mountain range in Idaho called The Italian Peaks
Definitely looking forward to this. One of those interesting places with not a lot of beta around.
 

muir_mountain

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Joined
Apr 16, 2016
Messages
121
UPDATE June 25th. Enjoy!
 

Nick

-
.
Joined
Aug 9, 2007
Messages
12,918
It might be easier to follow if you post updates as their own posts in this thread. It's not too hard to scan the first post now but you're just getting started. Just my .02. Re: panos, just upload them. If you want them to be clickable so people can see the full size, you have to host them off of BCP or email me the file to nick@backcountrypost.com and I'll bypass the resizer and upload it to the BCP server.
 

Artemus

I walk
.
Joined
Jun 25, 2012
Messages
4,402
It might be easier to follow if you post updates as their own posts in this thread. It's not too hard to scan the first post now but you're just getting started. Just my .02. Re: panos, just upload them. If you want them to be clickable so people can see the full size, you have to host them off of BCP or email me the file to nick@backcountrypost.com and I'll bypass the resizer and upload it to the BCP server.
Yeah Gabe, I totally missed your strategy and just wondered what your update post meant. Hate to miss your real update pics.
 

Vegan.Hiker

Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2014
Messages
2,090
nice! Can't wait to hear about WY. And there's no shame in getting a hotel room when you feel like, it's your trip. And yeah, I agree with Nick, might be easier to follow if you just added a new post to this thread with each update.
 
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