JanVincentKleine Member Posts: 11
edited April 2022 in ROUTES & TRAILS

Hello everyone,

I've just registered. Glad to be here and thank you HMG for creating this community!

My name is Vincent, I'm an adventure photographer originally based in Germany. 2 years ago my wife and I embarked on a trip around the world in our converted van. We've been down in South America most of the time and have now shipped the car to the US to explore around here.

We are super keen on spending as much time hiking and experiencing this beautiful country and it's huge variety of landscapes as possible. And I believe this community and all it's knowledge might be a perfect resource for tips on how to make the most of our stay here in the US. 

We're currently on our way from the eastcoast to the west, approaching Colorado.

My US Visa is valid for ~2.5 more months. After that, we'd like to spend 2-3 months in Canada before hopefully being allowed to return to the US in the fall (August/September) for another month or two. I don't think we'll have time for Alaska this time around (the visa limits us unfortunately).

We are fit and experienced backcountry hikers. I think the sweetspot would be 1-2 weeks hikes. We're comfortable with trail-less backcountry and would prefer to stay away as much as possible from the crowds.

The rough route idea with the van through the US is to make a big loop around Utah, Arizona, Nevada (Moab, Bryce, Zion, Grand Canyon, Red Rocks etc.), then head west, up to Yosemite and up the coast via Washington and Oregon to Vancouver, Canada.

Some ideas for hikes or areas that I've written down:

Pfiffner Traverse, Colorado | I assume best in July?

Kings Canyon High Basin Route, California Sierra | I assume best in August or even better September?

Sierra High Route, California Sierra | I assume best in late summer as well?

Yosemite High Route, California | I assume best in July to mid September?

Wind River High Route, Wyoming | I assume best in July, August?

Hayduke Trail, Utah & Arizona | Good time now!?

Ptarmigan Traverse, North Cascades, Washington | July, August?

So I guess our best bet for the next 2 months is to start in the desert southwest – maybe with a section hike on Hayduke...

Which of the above (or any other suggestion you might have) would be beautiful and doable in May/June? I believe I read about the high routes from Andrew Skurka sometime ago but I'm afraid we're a little too early for those in the next 2 months. I assume that there's very beautiful lower elevation routes in those areas as well though? Would you have recommendations for routes or trails in those areas, that are in lower elevation and can thus be attempted earlier in the season maybe?

Thank you guys so much, I'm really looking forward to hearing your ideas and recommendations and head out there :)



  • JanVincentKleine
    JanVincentKleine Member Posts: 11
    edited April 2022

    I'm also looking into the option of combining Little Colorado Canyon with 1 day on Beamer, the Escalante Route and the Tonto Trail. Does anyone have experience there?

    Also, has anyone combined Zion Narros, West Rim Trail & Kolob Canyons? That looks super beautiful as well!

  • snechemias
    snechemias Member, Moderator Posts: 22

    Hi Vincent! That's a great list you've got going. I've done Pfiffner, Kings, bits of the SHR and YHR in my own wanderings, and Skurka's version of the WRHR. Your prospective time frames all look good to me except the Winds and Ptarmigan, which probably aren't ideal until late July.

    If any of those are doable before you have to make for the Canadian border Pfiffner is the likeliest.

    It sounds like you're looking for some alpine, so rather than suggest low elevation trails in the areas you've looked into I'll suggest places that are coming into season now or very soon.

    The Uintas come to mind for a June destination.

    Primetime alpine in your time frame is basin and range country... you'll find lots of off the beaten path ranges in southern Oregon and Nevada, like the Rubies, Santa Rosa, Toiyabe and Toquima, Pueblos, Trout Creek, Oregon Canyon Mountains.

    NOT Alpine thoughts:

    A different experience would be the Hells Canyon Rim, which is presently snowbound but within a month or so could be done in a loop with the middle bench, or hike the middle bench now and loop back with the Snake River Trail.

    Owyhee country in eastern oregon is in primetime too.

    Hope this helps! If one of these sparks your interest and you want a little more beta let me know!


  • JanVincentKleine
    JanVincentKleine Member Posts: 11

    Thank you so much Scott, that's an amazing wealth of info! I'll look into all these and will get back to you, thank you so much!

    It does not necessarily need to be high alpine, those are just the most scenic looking trails I could find at first research. I unfortunately won't have time to spend weeks on developing my own wilderness routes so I need to rely on somewhat "established" routes, like Hayduke and the others.

    Wonderful, I'll look it all up as soon as possible and will get back to you! Thank you Scott!

  • tina
    tina Member, Moderator Posts: 56

    Awesome list! My husband and I did the van thing for a year and a half, spending a large chunk of time in the areas that you've mentioned. We were always on the move (we drove an average of 175 miles a day for 16 solid months), so my experience is more in the get-up-and-GO category, but we had no problem whatsoever winging it with the help of local outfitters, National Park Service/state park rangers, and insight gleaned from folks at breweries and coffee shops. We'd usually show up at an information desk first thing in the morning, explain our experience level, and ask for their favorite least-traveled trail/s in the area. Since we had all of our gear in the van ready to go, it kept things nimble for changes in water, permitting challenges, or exploring hidden gems. That might not work quite as well for 1-2 week trips, but I'd definitely leave a little wiggle room in your schedule for some undiscovered local favorites. You'll need to check into permitting for some of the more popular California stuff you've mentioned and be ready to deal with wildfire season. Get yourself an annual National Park Pass for $80 if you don't have one already. Arizona and Utah are gonna get hot here shortly. And Wyoming is the best state in the nation — it's got alpine, canyons, rivers, plains. Go everywhere there. Have the best time!!

  • JanVincentKleine
    JanVincentKleine Member Posts: 11

    Hello Tina,

    thank you so much for your nice reply! And apologies for not getting back earlier. There was a lot of driving to be done but we've now finally reached the Rockies :)

    That's a nice approach you've taken, staying completely flexible!

    I think we're aiming to spend the next 1 or 1.5 months in the desert south west until the heat drives us away west towards the coast. Then up in direction of Canada. We would love to come back down from Canada via Wyoming and Montana...the Tetons etc.

    I'll keep you guys updated!

  • KilgoreTroutQQ
    KilgoreTroutQQ Member Posts: 8

    Hey, I just finished hiking on the Arizona Trail, and took a couple extra days in the Grand Canyon to do part of the Escalante Route and the Hayduke Trail there in the canyon. It was incredible! And there are almost no people in those sections of the park either, so you will probably have a really awesome experience. Fair warning, it's already getting super hot around the canyon though--and a lot of seasonal water sources are already drying up since it was such a low snow year. You can put together a really sweet 5-7 day loop hike around the Grand Canyon on the Hayduke and Escalante trails as well, I'd definitely recommend it.

  • JanVincentKleine
    JanVincentKleine Member Posts: 11

    Hey guys,

    here's a quick update :)

    We unfortunately caught Covid when we reached the area around Moab 2 weeks ago and had to quarantine (and felt pretty miserable tbh). Yesterday we did a first dayhike in the Canyonlands NP area to see if our bodies are up to pursuing multiday hikes again. What an incredibly beautiful area!

    We're really excited for our planned Grand Canyon Hike now but slightly afraid of the heat and water situation. None of the marked springs/sources in Canyonlands had any water and 90+ degrees with the desert sun dries you up like a raisin. So we'll have to look into the logistics there and worst case just do an overnighter for which we can carry all water with us. Too bad Covid delayed the start of our trip this much but we're happy to be good again and can't wait to see the next hikes!

    MARK SIREK Administrator Posts: 317

    @JanVincentKleine Sorry to hear about the Covid, but stoked your focus if firmly fixed forward! We have quite a few Desert Rats in this group - who's got water tips?

  • JanVincentKleine
    JanVincentKleine Member Posts: 11

    Thanks @MARK SIREK !

    Guys, we managed to get a hold on a Paria Canyon / Buckskin Gulch overnight permit for 5 days (starting on the 25th already). How incredible is that :)

    Has anyone been in the Canyon in the last 2-3 weeks (or knows someone who has been) and can tell us a bit about water level conditions in the Buckskin? That would be super nice!

    Thank you so much!

  • JanVincentKleine
    JanVincentKleine Member Posts: 11

    Just a quick update: Buckskin Gulch / Paria Canyon has been incredible. Though it might be fairly short, it completely took us into a different world and state of mind that usually requires longer hikes in my case. A truly beautiful experience!