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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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.

I live in the New York tri-state area. I love the Adirondacks but it's 5 hours to the central Adirondacks and that's at least a 3 day trip for me. I have done trips there for over 30 years, some in winter. The places I dismiss out of hand are the places I don't find so beautiful or interesting within a few miles of me. I don't look down upon people that enjoy these places, I just don't think I can look to many of them as people that would potentially be interested in 6 to 12 day trips out west. I could be wrong. In fact, as small as I think the odds are I'm probably going to start to go on some of these trips because even though I don't think I'll meet many people that want to do these longer trips in wilder places I think it might be my only chance to meet people that may want to do these types of trips.
 

TheMountainRabbit

"Because it's there."
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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.
Probably the #1 reason I don't recommend them is because I'm fortunate to live near some places where backpacking is very easily accessible at almost all levels - as a result, I rarely think it's necessary. Plus, I don't tend to like hiring guides - even when it takes me longer to learn w/o one - and I tend to give advice I'd take myself. (But I still think there are notable exceptions for everyone - personally, I do like to get a guide occasionally for fishing trips.)

You do seem like a decent fit for a guided backpacking trip though: you're older (guided groups tend to skew 40+), you don't live near "world class" hiking destinations, and you have very limited time. (Plus, you don't like solo trips and it sounds like you could use some feedback on your backpacking "kit".) There isn't just one kind of guided trip either - I'm not the one to ask for specifics, but I know people that have done everything from Skurka's trips that require a pretty high level of fitness and are completely "Bring Your Own Gear" to trips that include the guides cooking your meals for you on a cast iron skillet after a 5 mile day. Do your research and I think you can get the combination of adventure and support you are looking for - and there's a decent chance you hit it off w/ another member of your group and find a future hiking partner w/ very similar goals/interests.
 
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Probably the #1 reason I don't recommend them is because I'm fortunate to live near some places where backpacking is very easily accessible at almost all levels - as a result, I rarely think it's necessary. Plus, I don't tend to like hiring guides - even when it takes me longer to learn w/o one - and I tend to give advice I'd take myself. (But I still think there are notable exceptions for everyone - personally, I do like to get a guide occasionally for fishing trips.)

You do seem like a decent fit for a guided backpacking trip though: you're older (guided groups tend to skew 40+), you don't live near "world class" hiking destinations, and you have very limited time. (Plus, you don't like solo trips and it sounds like you could use some feedback on your backpacking "kit".) There isn't just one kind of guided trip either - I'm not the one to ask for specifics, but I know people that have done everything from Skurka's trips that require a pretty high level of fitness and are completely "Bring Your Own Gear" to trips that include the guides cooking your meals for you on a cast iron skillet after a 5 mile day. Do your research and I think you can get the combination of adventure and support you are looking for - and there's a decent chance you hit it off w/ another member of your group and find a future hiking partner w/ very similar goals/interests.

Might be the only near guaranteed way to meet future backpacking partners, I'll give you that.
 

Wanderlust073

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I'm not one to go off into the serious backcountry alone.

If this is the crux of it for you, hiring a guide is definitely a great solution. You get a body with a sat phone and some level of emt skills.

Hiring a guide in that capacity says no more about you knowing what you are doing than paying for car insurance says about your ability to drive a car.

Of course this discounts the value of spending time with and learning from someone who spends hundreds of nights a year outdoors and has likely done so for decades, something worth far more than their day rate, but that’s your call.

Otherwise post in the meetup forum, share trip reports so people have some idea what you’re into and capable of, and see what happens.
 

LarryBoy

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I live in the New York tri-state area. I love the Adirondacks but it's 5 hours to the central Adirondacks and that's at least a 3 day trip for me. I have done trips there for over 30 years, some in winter. The places I dismiss out of hand are the places I don't find so beautiful or interesting within a few miles of me. I don't look down upon people that enjoy these places, I just don't think I can look to many of them as people that would potentially be interested in 6 to 12 day trips out west. I could be wrong. In fact, as small as I think the odds are I'm probably going to start to go on some of these trips because even though I don't think I'll meet many people that want to do these longer trips in wilder places I think it might be my only chance to meet people that may want to do these types of trips.

I think you've got an extremely low opinion of the interests and capabilities of people who do trips in your local area. That's odd, considering you've got a 2200-mile trail running right through your backyard, full of some of the most experienced and enthusiastic backpackers on the planet. The first time I ever heard of the Wind River Range was from a backpacker not too far from Sunfish Pond in NJ (beautiful!), who raved about the Winds and told me about this wonderful "sneak route" along the backside of a popular backpacking area.

I call it Erwin Syndrome. When Appalachian Trail thru-hikers start out, they're all tentative and nervous, or maybe a little overconfident and quickly get cut down to size by the rigors of the trail. But after a few weeks on trail, and a few hundred miles, they start to fall into a groove. This generally happens in the Erwin, TN area, plus or minus a state. Here's the thing though: that stage of thru-hiker development yields (by far) the most obnoxious, entitled behavior. People get drunk and trash hotel rooms, or get all high and mighty on their thru-hiker pedestal and talk down to section hikers, or whatever. Like teenagers, they've gained enough experience to have confidence, and gone far enough already that they feel they're special and important, but haven't yet learned the harder, more subtle lessons of humility that come not in a couple hundred miles, but from a few thousand miles. And some never learn them.

I had the pleasure of meeting a hiking legend last year at a hiker get-together, This fellow has walked over 50,000 trail miles, was the first to hike all 11 National Scenic Trails, and is a talented and prolific writer to boot. To say I was a little starstruck would be an understatement. And yet, when we spoke, he made a point not of talking about himself and all the wonderful things he'd done and was planning to do. Instead, he asked about me. And even though my goals were relatively modest, he immediately seized on them, talked them up, and made me feel like a million bucks. He could have easily dismissed or ignored my plans, instead dwelling on his (considerably more impressive) goals and accomplishments. But he didn't. He found beauty in my "local overnighter", so to speak. And if he can do it, what excuse do you or I have?

Finally - a surefire way to cure a rotten attitude like this? Get outside. Even if the overnighter is lame and stupid and terrible and full of uncouth losers who will never know the beauty you know and/or dream of. I suspect if you actually just bite the bullet and go on a quick weekend overnighter once a month in the warmer months, you'll find yourself amazed at how much better (supposedly) marginal backpacking is than no backpacking at all. Any time outdoors is time well-spent.
 

Hiker Seth

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Fellow east coast guy here. I'm in the same boat as forest dweller. If I didn't go out alone I'd never do anything. I do a lot of short trips in the northeast solo. I've also done a couple of week long trips out west solo. Do the research, ask a lot of questions, and go. Its quite liberating.

I've put out feelers here about partners but I am always leary of going out with folks I don't know. I don't want to find out 20 miles in that we make bad partners. I'm a pretty good judge of character and I believe there are a bunch of people on this forum that I'd have a blast with.

I agree with Wanderlust073. No shame in a guided trip. You should look at Andrew Skurka's trips. He's probably full up by now for 21 but I bet he has a waiting list.
 
Joined
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I think you've got an extremely low opinion of the interests and capabilities of people who do trips in your local area. That's odd, considering you've got a 2200-mile trail running right through your backyard, full of some of the most experienced and enthusiastic backpackers on the planet. The first time I ever heard of the Wind River Range was from a backpacker not too far from Sunfish Pond in NJ (beautiful!), who raved about the Winds and told me about this wonderful "sneak route" along the backside of a popular backpacking area.

I call it Erwin Syndrome. When Appalachian Trail thru-hikers start out, they're all tentative and nervous, or maybe a little overconfident and quickly get cut down to size by the rigors of the trail. But after a few weeks on trail, and a few hundred miles, they start to fall into a groove. This generally happens in the Erwin, TN area, plus or minus a state. Here's the thing though: that stage of thru-hiker development yields (by far) the most obnoxious, entitled behavior. People get drunk and trash hotel rooms, or get all high and mighty on their thru-hiker pedestal and talk down to section hikers, or whatever. Like teenagers, they've gained enough experience to have confidence, and gone far enough already that they feel they're special and important, but haven't yet learned the harder, more subtle lessons of humility that come not in a couple hundred miles, but from a few thousand miles. And some never learn them.

I had the pleasure of meeting a hiking legend last year at a hiker get-together, This fellow has walked over 50,000 trail miles, was the first to hike all 11 National Scenic Trails, and is a talented and prolific writer to boot. To say I was a little starstruck would be an understatement. And yet, when we spoke, he made a point not of talking about himself and all the wonderful things he'd done and was planning to do. Instead, he asked about me. And even though my goals were relatively modest, he immediately seized on them, talked them up, and made me feel like a million bucks. He could have easily dismissed or ignored my plans, instead dwelling on his (considerably more impressive) goals and accomplishments. But he didn't. He found beauty in my "local overnighter", so to speak. And if he can do it, what excuse do you or I have?

Finally - a surefire way to cure a rotten attitude like this? Get outside. Even if the overnighter is lame and stupid and terrible and full of uncouth losers who will never know the beauty you know and/or dream of. I suspect if you actually just bite the bullet and go on a quick weekend overnighter once a month in the warmer months, you'll find yourself amazed at how much better (supposedly) marginal backpacking is than no backpacking at all. Any time outdoors is time well-spent.

Just so you know I'm not that guy. I don't have tons of miles under my belt, only get in a few camping trips a year, usually in the Adirondacks, half are with a canoe, and I huff and puff every step of the way and usually cap out somewhere between 5 and 10 miles per day depending on the terrain. I just like to seek out bigger wilderness with extraordinary beauty, which has the "gamut" of wildlife.

One of my main reasons for not wanting to go locally, besides it not really being that beautiful, wild or exceptional is that since I don't go very often preparation, gear gathering and packing is a big deal, takes some time and gives me anxiety.....but ironically this might be a reason to actually do these trips, to do it over and over again, get better and faster at it, and keep my scattered gear all in one location!
 
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Fellow east coast guy here. I'm in the same boat as forest dweller. If I didn't go out alone I'd never do anything. I do a lot of short trips in the northeast solo. I've also done a couple of week long trips out west solo. Do the research, ask a lot of questions, and go. Its quite liberating.

I've put out feelers here about partners but I am always leary of going out with folks I don't know. I don't want to find out 20 miles in that we make bad partners. I'm a pretty good judge of character and I believe there are a bunch of people on this forum that I'd have a blast with.

I agree with Wanderlust073. No shame in a guided trip. You should look at Andrew Skurka's trips. He's probably full up by now for 21 but I bet he has a waiting list.

It's funny, I have adjusted to being a bit of a loner in my non-camping life. So many people are so busy with family and work to "hang out" and there is a percentage of the population you'd just rather avoid (and people may want to avoid me too so it goes both ways) but I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable in the wilderness by myself, I'm nearly certain that I wouldn't.

And yeah, finding people to backpack with is hard and not everyone is a match. One may be able to hike faster and want to go further...and you might find out in conversation that the other person holds some beliefs that are greatly at odds with what you believe!

I'll consider the guided trip but I'd rather not, especially waiting a year. But I guess I could sign up for the right trip one year out and do something else this year.

My wife is 47 and is going through something right now that the doctors haven't figured out. She's been moody and nervous on top of other things. But she liked our trip in Banff 2 summers ago, we did a little backpacking...she found it beautiful but has her limits. I could tailor trips for us if she is willing and I am sure she is comfortable and not over-hiked. She likes the idea of other people being in camp, and that's how it is in Banff and Glacier...not how it is in Yellowstone...but it is probably just a peace of mind preference.

Yeah, I'm not for everyone and everyone is not for me but I know that there are people I'd hit it off with if only I could find them. It was the same with dating when I was younger. Life is beautiful but can be a real bummer. Experiences and opportunities missed out on over not having time, money or companions.
 

McKee80

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I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable in the wilderness by myself, I'm nearly certain that I wouldn't.
Do you mean where you set up camp? It's pretty easy to pick an area where you can choose to be alone or not. I was in the Sierra a couple years ago and changed up my route a little to be camping within yelling distance of other backpackers. I don't know if I'm going to want to be completely remote or not until I'm there. If I do, I just jump off the popular route a mile and that's remote enough for me. And places like Glacier, you are camping with other people anyway.
 

Bob

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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.
Yes, hiking int the intermountain west is a WAY different environment than eastern or any long distance trail....
 
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Yes, hiking int the intermountain west is a WAY different environment than eastern or any long distance trail....

Yeah, I like the straight ahead nature of hiking out west compared to carefully avoiding small boulders and tree roots and slick wet leaves in the northeast.
 

wsp_scott

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Another east coast person (48 years old) with only one friend who backpacks but is slowly falling out of the habit, it probably doesn't help that he lives 6 hours from me so we actually have to plan trips vs spur of the moment.

Last 10 years or so I have started backpacking more, first with my friend and then solo on shorter trips and then solo on longer trips. I now get about 30ish backpacking nights a year, so I have some practice. Four years ago I decided that I needed to see out west and did some research, booked a flight and a rental car and got a taste of the High Sierra all by myself, except for the many other people on the JMT also getting a taste for the mountains :)

If you are reasonably comfortable with being by yourself, then the JMT would be an ideal solo trip because you can find people to hike with, people to camp with and people to talk to if you want. Or you can wander off a bit and feel mostly alone but with help nearby if you actually need it. Just plan on going next summer, start training for the elevation changes and just go.

Here is a trip report from my first trip to the Sierra to get you started https://backcountrypost.com/threads/a-week-in-the-sierra-nevada.8002/
 
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Yeah, I like the straight ahead nature of hiking out west compared to carefully avoiding small boulders and tree roots and slick wet leaves in the northeast.

I didn't mean to...it seemed implied that hiking out west was more difficult. I didn't find it more difficult the few times I have. Must have been lucky or chose easy trails...it seemed easier to me.
 

Jackson

I like to go outside.
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I'm 29 and I live out west, and I have had to come to terms with the fact that I'm going to have to get comfortable going solo in grizzly country if I want to see all the places on my list. Still haven't accomplished that, but I'm going to be working on it this summer.

People can meet up sometimes, and that's great, but there's always going to be those trips where no one is available/interested/able to make the drive or flight to get there. So I'd imagine that if that's the case for me, it would be even tougher for someone older than me living on the east coast! So my recommendation is to try going solo in more popular places like the Winds, Glacier, Banff, then branch out to the less popular if that's more your interest. Then, when you have stuff you want to do but no one to join up, it won't hold you back.

I've had the most success meeting other people specifically to backpack and hike with through BCP and through social media. I follow some people on instagram that I previously had never met, but it looked like they do trips similar to what I do. Leaving an occasional comment on a post or responding to a post on a story has eventually led to going on a few hikes with some of those people. It's not a guarantee, and I get weird looks from people sometimes when I tell them I'm going on a hike with a stranger I met on the internet, but it's been the easiest way, in my experience.
 

regehr

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I've done three guided trips over the years: one because setting up logistics in the Brooks Range is difficult, one because I didn't have the skills necessary to climb a glaciated peak on my own. If I do another one it'll likely be because I don't feel like setting up the logistics for a long raft trip on my own. It's expensive but all of the guided trips were super fun, I'd not have done them otherwise, and I learned stuff on each trip that I'd not have learned hiking on my own. The USA doesn't seem to have nearly the guiding culture that Europe does, and that's kind of a shame. If you can make the $$$ happen, there's no reason not to hire a guide, they're usually cool people too.
 

fiber

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I've found backpackers tend to be on the introverted side. If you want to get out in nature with others, you might want to try trail running. Most cities have running clubs that organize weekly pavement and trail runs. It isn’t backpacking, but trail running with others might be more fun for you than backpacking alone.
 
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I've found backpackers tend to be on the introverted side. If you want to get out in nature with others, you might want to try trail running. Most cities have running clubs that organize weekly pavement and trail runs. It isn’t backpacking, but trail running with others might be more fun for you than backpacking alone.

Yeah, nah, I specifically like backpacking and wilderness and camping.
 
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My wife has gone backpacking with me a few times. She gets nervous about it...enjoys it when it's beautiful, the weather is great, our packs aren't too heavy and the daily distances are within reason. I think she'd both love a trip into the Thorofare AND be worried about it...mostly bears. I'm tempted to talk her into it and just go for it. On the one hand she needs a nudge and she'd probably love it...on the other hand it would have to go without a hitch...she'll rely on me to get it right. What do you guys think about bringing reluctant on the fence spouses with you...if you figure they'll love it but they are nervous beforehand?

I mean, I know what I'm doing out there. Yeah I'd need bear "luck"! But I'd do all the proper precautions.

My biggest thing is I could use a pack shake down probably. And since I'm kinda responsible for her pack that would effect both packs. Thing is, things that people would suggest leaving my attitude would be, "What are you crazy?" :lol:
 
Last edited:

WasatchWill

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I'm just going to concur with those who've suggested going out to more familiar local areas at least once a month, even if they don't offer up the "wow" factor you crave, but to simply dial in your gear system and get comfortable with it, figure out what you routinely use, what makes you happy on trail and in camp, and what you do without or would be willing to exchange out to make your pack lighter. Then get comfortable with being both alone and in the company of various other kinds of people (with a shared appreciation for wilderness of course) and doing whatever you can to keep your hiker legs and lungs up to par. If you're huffing and puffing after 5 miles of anything on the East Coast, you're really going to huff and puff on stuff in the Rocky Mountains, even with past experience hiking and backpacking well groomed trails in the likes of Banff. And aside from some of those trails in Banff and Yellowstone, etc, most trails out West here are going to throw much more at you than an occasional boulder, tree stump, etc.

You could always try making friends with guys like Joey Coconato and @norwegianxplorer who routinely hike the kind of trips you're speaking to and appear to have hiking buddies that occasionally join up with them who are well into their 50's, but I imagine they're also pretty selective with who they invite out for company on their big trips as well for many of the same reasons you've acknowledged. And while they don't seem to throw down tons of miles each day on their trips and are pretty casual with their distances, the terrain they traverse across is anything but casual.

At any rate, I wish you all the best and especially for your wife. Hope all turns out well with that situation. Beyond that, some great advice has been given by others here regarding guides and so forth so I'll just leave it at that. I used to get really anxious about going solo, but now that I have an InReach to communicate with my wife and with emergency services should something go south for me with nobody else around to give me aid, I'd only really get nervous now about going alone into areas with high Grizzly activity. But even then, lots of folks go solo into grizzly country with no trouble at all and for those who do, some even live to tell the tale...that right, @LarryBoy?;)
 
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