What do you think is the best way to meet other SERIOUS backpackers when you only backpack once or twice a year and...

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What do you think is the best way to meet other SERIOUS backpackers when you only backpack once or twice a year and you have a very small "network" of backpacking friends?
I live in New York and people have suggested Meetup or the Appalachian Mountain Club...but looking into these I only see people interested in doing single overnights locally or MAYBE holiday weekend backpacking trips in the Catskills or Adirondacks. I want to meet people that are reliable and want to do 7 to 10 day trips in Alberta, Montana and Wyoming. I'm 53 and nothing I have done has worked...granted I haven't been very proactive...and I do have a handful of backpacking friends...but they always seem to be too busy with other things when planning a trip for August...I'm just afraid...judging by the past...if I fail at this in the next 10 or 20 years that will be the end of my serious backcountry exploration probably....I'm not one to go off into the serious backcountry alone.
 
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Wanderlust073

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Gets harder as your circle of friends age, their responsibilities increase, their fitness tanks, etc. That’s been my experience anyway.

Get an inReach and get comfortable with your solo self. I have so little in common with the 20-30s posting on outdoor sites based on a lot of what they post that I can’t see spending a bunch of time with them, though there have certainly been exceptions along the way.
 
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My best backpacking friend is just laser focused on work, mortgage and putting his kids through college...he's not really much of a backpacker any more. I want to do a Thorofare trip in August, but my cousin, who might go with me...his only daughter / child is getting married the following month and he thinks he will be needed related to things leading up to it. My wife would would probably like it if she is comfortable (bugs / weather and not over-hiked!) but she would be scared being in bear country and not having others around. I don't think I could mentally adjust to doing many trips alone, definitely not a big one. I really got robbed in this lifetime not crossing paths with the right people...they exist.... we just don't cross paths!
 

Wanderlust073

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Post in the meetup section, someone might want to get in on your trips.
 

b.stark

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I've actually had decent luck through this forum. Never created a meetup thread but have had a few private message conversations that led to trips. I don't do more than overnights solo so far, so I understand about really wanting to find people to hike with for big trips. I live in Nebraska so it is virtually impossible to find hiking partners locally.

Could possibly be interested in a Thorofare trip in August but its too early for me to commit.
 

LarryBoy

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Gets harder as your circle of friends age, their responsibilities increase, their fitness tanks, etc. That’s been my experience anyway.

Get an inReach and get comfortable with your solo self. I have so little in common with the 20-30s posting on outdoor sites based on a lot of what they post that I can’t see spending a bunch of time with them, though there have certainly been exceptions along the way.
30s person here. Honest question (no shade intended): have you ever actually gone backpacking with somebody a decade or two your junior?

The reason I ask is this: being outdoors together, is a tremendously unifying experience. I have not just one, but several good friends, who I've backpacked with and stayed in contact with for years - who are 30+ years older than me. I probably would never have met them, much become pals with them, had it not been for the fact that we were backpacking together.

How we talk about ourselves (especially online) generally springs from how we want to be seen by others, rather than who we truly are. I've found over and over, when I meet somebody in the backpacking world who has a bit of online notoriety/name recognition - they scarcely resemble (for better or worse) their online shtick.

So I guess my encouragement would be this - give it a chance! If we only hang out with those we have a lot in common with, we don't do anything to expand our horizons - nor do we contribute toward breaking down the barriers that divide us - be it in terms of age, race, personality type, income level,, or whatever.
 

TheMountainRabbit

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It's definitely a challenge, but you kind of just need to seize the opportunities you are presented. My first backpacking trips were all w/ friends I met by more organic means (college, etc.), but these days my trips are either solo or w/ someone I met in a backpacking/outdoors circle. I do cherish the rare opportunity to hike with my "original" friends, but they have different priorities and responsibilities and I'd barely ever get out - much less push my limits and learn new skills - if I relied on them.

My "top 3" partners these days are:
  1. 65 y/o retiree that has better high-altitude endurance than 95% of 20-somethings I know and an encyclopedic knowledge of the Sierra Nevada - met him on a random trip via message board.
  2. 44 y/o I randomly met on top of Knapsack Col hiking opposite directions (both solo at the time) - turns out he lives 15 minutes from me in CO, but we still basically only get together for hiking (we don't have much else in common).
  3. My 30 y/o brother - he's the notable exception and I'm lucky to have him; no wife, no kids, and 100s of hours of comp time - but he's not big on high elevation (10,000'+) or more exposed routes.

I've hiked w/ all kinds of people over the past decade+ - some are a better fit than others, but so far I've never had more than a minor issue. (You do need to know/learn how to set boundaries and speak honestly.) Some have "the bug" and stick around - others have different priorities and fade out. Nothing wrong with either.

Learning to be confident and competent solo was the biggest game-changer for me though, to be honest.
 
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Wanderlust073

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30s person here. Honest question (no shade intended): have you ever actually gone backpacking with somebody a decade or two your junior?

Yes, trip reports and videos with aforementioned exceptions.
 

SteveR

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What do you think is the best way to meet other SERIOUS backpackers when you only backpack once or twice a year and you have a very small "network" of backpacking friends?
I live in New York and people have suggested Meetup or the Appalachian Mountain Club...but looking into these I only see people interested in doing single overnights locally or MAYBE holiday weekend backpacking trips in the Catskills or Adirondacks. I want to meet people that are reliable and want to do 7 to 10 day trips in Alberta, Montana and Wyoming. I'm 53 and nothing I have done has worked...granted I haven't been very proactive...and I do have a handful of backpacking friends...but they always seem to be too busy with other things when planning a trip for August...I'm just afraid...judging by the past...if I fail at this in the next 10 or 20 years that will be the end of my serious backcountry exploration probably....I'm not one to go off into the serious backcountry alone.
With all due respect, have you considered the possibility that being "SERIOUS" might be discouraging others from joining you? And- that you need to get to know others, and they you, via shorter trips first? There's no way that I would embark on a week to ten day trip with someone else, without vetting them first on something short and less committing. And that is where clubs can be invaluable- I have met many lifelong friends of all ages through my association with a couple of outdoor groups, where we have gone on to do many things outside of the group that put us together originally.
 

Yvonne

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I usually go solo, I don't mind. It's often hard to find like-minded people, especially as a lady as most in my age group have family and kids.
I probably do the Thorofare solo next year. I'm not really scared about it as I've hiked more than 500 miles solo as day hikes in Yellowstone and know what to expect. I actually feel really comfortable hiking solo in the park the only thing I actually worry about is that my stove could fail on me which probably solve in bringing a backup stove, lol.
I really enjoy all my solo hikes and backpacking trips and I see it as some sort of off-time where I can connect with nature and be myself.
It's not a bad thing going solo. You can get up when you want and hike as far as you want.
 

kwc

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@forest dweller ... remember that it’s a large commitment, both in time and money, for east coasters to arrange for trips like you’re wishing to take to Alberta, Montana, etc. Especially if they have never done anything like that out west, or even on the east coast.

There are several groups on Facebook that might be helpful when it comes to arranging a trip like you wish to have.

I’m not sure if you’ve hiked the Northville-Placid Trail, or the Long Trail, but either of those would provide you with opportunities to meet like minded folks who might be interested in an adventure out west with you.

Lastly, I’m really bothered by your use of the term “SERIOUS” backpackers. What do you really mean by that? I love backpacking and day hiking and canoeing and my intention with all of them is to have fun and enjoy my time out there, wherever that may be. So, what exactly do you mean by “SERIOUS”?
 
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@forest dweller ... remember that it’s a large commitment, both in time and money, for east coasters to arrange for trips like you’re wishing to take to Alberta, Montana, etc. Especially if they have never done anything like that out west, or even on the east coast.

There are several groups on Facebook that might be helpful when it comes to arranging a trip like you wish to have.

I’m not sure if you’ve hiked the Northville-Placid Trail, or the Long Trail, but either of those would provide you with opportunities to meet like minded folks who might be interested in an adventure out west with you.

Lastly, I’m really bothered by your use of the term “SERIOUS” backpackers. What do you really mean by that? I love backpacking and day hiking and canoeing and my intention with all of them is to have fun and enjoy my time out there, wherever that may be. So, what exactly do you mean by “SERIOUS”?

I guess what I meant by serious is "next level"...or much larger endeavors than a single overnight or holiday weekend somewhere in the very densely populated and overly developed northeast. I probably didn't make myself clear.

See, I'm not interested in single overnight non-wilderness or barely wilderness backpacking trips....and I guess that's a bit of a catch 22 because if I don't do those I guess 'm not expanding my network of backpacking friends. But it just seems like most people wouldn't or couldn't do a 10 day Thorofare trip...so it's hard to get up the motivation to bother doing not very interesting local trips to meet people that don't want to do or can't do bigger trips. I guess I'm looking for needles in a haystack and I gotta find a way to be more successful with that.

Having said that, I've done 4 day trips in the Adirondacks and have had "getting everything to fit" / "bringing too much" problems so if I get to do these longer trips I aspire to I will REALLY have to dial in what I bring and what stays. Maybe I'll have to accept that I'll be sticky sweaty and not have non sticky sweaty clothes to put on, although that drives me bonkers and I always want to feel clean going to sleep so I usually stay near water and swim or wipe down good with a wash cloth before getting into my sleep clothes. But what can an additional shirt and socks that I wash and dry and rotate weigh? The real challenge for a longer trip is food and fuel quantity and volume.
 

kwc

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@forest dweller
I suggest a backpacking trip on the AT in the 100 mile wilderness in Maine. Consider it a shakedown hike. If you’re having trouble dialing in on your backpacking kit with your current 4 day adventures, heading out to Yellowstone or wherever out west and trying to dial it in out there is a recipe for trouble IMHO.
Or try hiking the Long Trail SOBO from the northern terminus. I think you’ll find it much less “developed” than you think. Another potential shakedown hike, learning what does and doesn’t work for a trip longer than 4 days.
 

TheMountainRabbit

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I guess what I meant by serious is "next level"...or much larger endeavors than a single overnight or holiday weekend somewhere in the very densely populated and overly developed northeast. I probably didn't make myself clear.

See, I'm not interested in single overnight non-wilderness or barely wilderness backpacking trips....and I guess that's a bit of a catch 22 because if I don't do those I guess 'm not expanding my network of backpacking friends. But it just seems like most people wouldn't or couldn't do a 10 day Thorofare trip...so it's hard to get up the motivation to bother doing not very interesting local trips to meet people that don't want to do or can't do bigger trips. I guess I'm looking for needles in a haystack and I gotta find a way to be more successful with that.

Having said that, I've done 4 day trips in the Adirondacks and have had "getting everything to fit" / "bringing too much" problems so if I get to do these longer trips I aspire to I will REALLY have to dial in what I bring and what stays. Maybe I'll have to accept that I'll be sticky sweaty and not have non sticky sweaty clothes to put on, although that drives me bonkers and I always want to feel clean going to sleep so I usually stay near water and swim or wipe down good with a wash cloth before getting into my sleep clothes. But what can an additional shirt and socks that I wash and dry and rotate weigh? The real challenge for a longer trip is food and fuel quantity and volume.
This is not something I normally recommend, but it sounds like you'd be a pretty good candidate for a guided trip. It'd also be a good opportunity to meet others w/ similar interests, but also similar limitations/restrictions.
 

LarryBoy

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Honestly, I'm not really digging the "go-big-or-go-home" outlook here. That's doubly true when that outlook includes disparaging other people's adventures as "barely wilderness" or "non-serious". And even moreso when you say that one of your priorities is trying to learn/improve your skill set/dial in your system.

I've done plenty of short backpacking trips over the years, and plenty of long trips too. I've found that regular weekend trips have been far more important in my backpacking development than my long hikes. Getting a lot of reps - gear selection, trip planning, exposure to different seasons and ecosystems - is the key to learning. And unless you're willing to put in the reps, you can't really expect to grow.

I do apologize if I've misconstrued your outlook - I'm going merely by the words you've written on this thread, with no other information. But it does seem curious that a self-described "serious" outdoor adventurer would scorn opportunities to spend time outside and in beautiful places, and to increase your knowledge and comfort in the backcountry - all because it doesn't measure up to the Bob or whatever.
 

Rockskipper

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I would reccommend you get out in some remote area with your vehicle and car camp alone for a week or even longer. Do long day hikes using your car camp as a base. Your needs for companionship and fears of being alone will fade away, as will your civilized desires for cleanliness and other silliness as you get used to being dirty and revel in abandoning all those cultural things we're taught from childhood. After awhile your senses will heighten and your desire to be around others will lessen and you'll emerge like a butterfly into the glorious world of solo adventure. And if you're really lucky, you'll forget how to wear clothes and maybe even how to speak.
 

b.stark

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Having said that, I've done 4 day trips in the Adirondacks and have had "getting everything to fit" / "bringing too much" problems so if I get to do these longer trips I aspire to I will REALLY have to dial in what I bring and what stays. Maybe I'll have to accept that I'll be sticky sweaty and not have non sticky sweaty clothes to put on, although that drives me bonkers and I always want to feel clean going to sleep so I usually stay near water and swim or wipe down good with a wash cloth before getting into my sleep clothes. But what can an additional shirt and socks that I wash and dry and rotate weigh? The real challenge for a longer trip is food and fuel quantity and volume.

I'm going to have to echo some of what others have said here and suggest that shorter "nearby" trips or even a guided trip may be the proper place for you to start, even though that's probably not what you really want to hear. If you are having trouble getting everything in your pack for a 4 day trip, 10 days is going to be quite tough. Making gear lists and using them to figure out what is necessary and what is not will be quite helpful in getting your equipment dialed.

I started backpacking by jumping straight into 7 day trips with little idea what I was doing, so it is certainly possible to do. Somehow my pack weights usually were down in the 35-40lb range even with some of the rather heavy gear items I was using at the time. But I got lucky and had a friend that was experienced with backpacking and I learned a fair deal from him that got me started on the right track.

You will have to accept being sticky, sweaty, and several other kinds of dirty on long trips. There's usually opportunity to clean up a bit, but overall backpacking is a dirty activity.
 
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@forest dweller
I suggest a backpacking trip on the AT in the 100 mile wilderness in Maine. Consider it a shakedown hike. If you’re having trouble dialing in on your backpacking kit with your current 4 day adventures, heading out to Yellowstone or wherever out west and trying to dial it in out there is a recipe for trouble IMHO.
Or try hiking the Long Trail SOBO from the northern terminus. I think you’ll find it much less “developed” than you think. Another potential shakedown hike, learning what does and doesn’t work for a trip longer than 4 days.

How would the 100 mile wilderness in Maine be any less challenging or any more a learning experience than a long trip in a landscape / wilderness I'd be much more interested in out west? When I was speaking of densely populated and densely developed areas of the northeast that I wouldn't be too interested in I was really speaking about section hiking the AT in the NY tri-state area or places like Harriman State Park or the Catskills.
 
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You will have to accept being sticky, sweaty, and several other kinds of dirty on long trips. There's usually opportunity to clean up a bit, but overall backpacking is a dirty activity.

Maybe so, but a couple of long sleeve quick drying shirts don't weigh too much and I could submerge them in water, getting most of the sweat out and dry them, and I could rinse off well with a washcloth. I have done this on 4 day trips for decades now.

I probably do need a shakedown, but there might be certain items I'm just going to feel the need to bring anyway.
 
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This is not something I normally recommend, but it sounds like you'd be a pretty good candidate for a guided trip. It'd also be a good opportunity to meet others w/ similar interests, but also similar limitations/restrictions.

Why is it something you would not normally recommend to others but you think I'd be a pretty good candidate?

I've actually considered it...but then I got REALLY annoyed that it would have to be a possibility, considering how expensive it would be, considering that I have a pretty good idea what I'm doing out there....and considering I'd be paying a rather hefty price primarily for companionship.
 
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