SEEKING EVEN MORE SOLITUDE?

MARK SIREK
MARK SIREK MAINEAdministrator Posts: 105
edited March 21 in ROUTES & TRAILS

Given the rise in popularity of backpacking and hiking in recent years, there's an increasing sentiment from a portion of the community that feels that some trails are too crowded to truly "get away from it all." Are you considering more remote backcountry travel in your trip planning?

SEEKING EVEN MORE SOLITUDE? 6 votes

Definitely. I have the gear and skills to do so safely and enjoyably.
83%
snechemiasTenDigitGridmikeseemichaeldeyoungw1jmc 5 votes
It's on my mind, but I'd want to go with more experienced backpackers in my group.
16%
SierrahHoover 1 vote
At this time, I've got a lot to learn before taking on that kind of challenge on my own.
0%

Comments

  • michaeldeyoung
    michaeldeyoung Taos, NMMember Posts: 1
    Definitely. I have the gear and skills to do so safely and enjoyably.

    Seeking more solitude requires effort, sacrifice and or expense. There are 3 ways I know to seek more solitude in the backcountry,

    1. Go to places with less scenic quality and value. There is lots of dull and uninteresting land in the West where one can find solitude while the "Insta hot spots" are loved to death. But then again, one of my main motivations for wilderness immersion is motivational and inspirational locations. Dull, uninteresting plains of Eastern Montana, or Glacier National Park? In Zion National Park, the most popular day hikes, Angel's Landing and the Narrows are overrun, while trail-less almost as scenic slick rock country nearby is almost void of people even during the most crowded times. Become a map nerd, increase your navigation and backcountry travel skills and confidence and pass on feeling like you are on the J train in Manhattan while in the Utah wilderness. Quit relying on trail apps. Do your own off the beaten path research.
    2. Embrace permitted locations-as long as the permit system is well managed and pretty much guarantees solitude. Some national parks have very well managed backcountry permit systems. The Grand Canyon is one of them. At the height of spring break where dealing with tourists at the South Rim is pretty much unbearable, a permit especially to the primitive trail areas pretty much gave us solitude on over 16 backcountry trips. In 7 days we would only see a few parties and if you embrace at-large dry camping, solitude in incredibly scenic Grand Canyon backcountry was there.
    3. Travel to far away roadless areas. This is what much of Alaska, western and northern Canada are all about. Unfortunately the price of admission to roadless extremely remote areas is steep and not available to everyone with limited financial resources. OTOH, I really don't want to see any new road access to the Brooks Range. Doing so would definitely chip away at high quality wilderness solitude. The Brooks Range is by far my favorite place for solitude and awe inspiring mountain scenery that is about as wild and remote as you can get. The admission fee for 2 of us to do a remote river fly-in, fly-out trip via bush plane is 5K. Ouch! Gotta save some more pennies.
  • tina
    tina custer, sdMember, Moderator Posts: 41

    Nice post! I drove to the Brooks range and hiked 20 miles through a random silver mine to end up in Gates of the Arctic NP. It can be done without hiring a private plane! I rented an expedition vehicle in Fairbanks for about $200 and enjoyed the trip down the infamous Dalton Highway a whole bunch. Didn’t see a soul for 5 days. I also recommend random places like the badlands in Nebraska or national grasslands in Kansas or the swamps in Florida for otherworldly outdoor experiences that will almost guarantee solitude because they aren’t, well, “cool.” There’s legitimately cool shit in every single US state.

  • TenDigitGrid
    TenDigitGrid San DiegoMember, Moderator Posts: 49
    Definitely. I have the gear and skills to do so safely and enjoyably.

    I suggest off season trips as well if you have the experience. I personally have only been to Yosemite National Park in the winter. Backcountry camping there in the winter is a lot more remote then in the high tiem of the summer or spring.

  • snechemias
    snechemias Portland Oregon Member, Moderator Posts: 11
    Definitely. I have the gear and skills to do so safely and enjoyably.

    In my neck of the woods, the Pacific northwest, solitude is easy to come by if you are comfortable with cross country travel and making your own routes. Just as an exercise, log into Caltopo, turn on the public lands layer, the map builder overlay, and the slope angle shading. In Oregon alone you'll see thirty plus wilderness study areas that you'll likely never see another person in, with truly spectacular terrain, and massive amounts of otherwise unprotected BLM land.

    Published and known high routes and cross country routes will have some people, but significantly higher amounts of solitude. For instance, on the first two sections of Brett Tuckers Mogollon Rim Trail I went several days at a time without seeing anyone. I also found this to be true on Skurkas Kings and Yosemite and Winds routes as well.

    For a long trail hiker the Oregon Desert Trail, the Blue Mountains Trail, the Pacific Northwest Trail, the Grand Enchantment, and a lot of the Hayduke, the Idaho Centennial all come to mind as places where you're likely to find solitude regularly.

    All of these require varying degrees of increased planning and effort versus a stroll around Mt Hood on the PCT, but the solitude and the scenery are well worth it.