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Hiking and camping - commercial groups?

Discussion in 'Hunting, Fishing & Camping' started by jthuang, Jul 22, 2003.

  1. jthuang

    jthuang On The Jazz

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    As some of you may have noticed in a few recent posts of mine, I'm itching to get into the backcountry.

    I haven't been out in the backcountry since 1999 (Glacier National Park, a truly beautiful place). The reason is that my camping buddy got hitched and is basically unavailable for those types of trips. I'd go solo except I keep hearing all those bear attack stories involving solo hikers. I know there's no surefire defense against a bear beyond an AT4 and I don't have a bear gun anyway. I figure the best defense against bears is (1) being smart about food storage and cooking; (2) camping and hiking in groups -- to create enough noise so that the bears aren't surprised by a solo hiker; and (3) bear pepper spray as a last resort.

    My current plan is to go hiking in northern Utah (got friends in Ogden -- but none that can go with me) in September. I know there are bears in Utah so I'm not too keen about going solo.

    My question: anyone have experience with commercial groups that purportedly take a bunch of people into the backcountry for hiking and camping? I figure this is the best way to satisfy requirement #2 above.

    I'm more concerned about the overall hiking/camping experience than anything else (cost, etc). My preferred style of hiking involves taking my Lowe Alpine Contour IV pack, filled with supplies for the week, and going into the woods for 7-10 days. I expect most days to involve hiking ~10 miles with said pack to the next campground. Some days can be day hikes up and down nearby mountains striking out from base camp. It's not the easiest experience in the world but I'm convinced this is the way to see the best views and experience nature in relative solitude (i.e. away from the crowds that swarm through our nation's parks).

    Again, any thoughts/input appreciated. Also, any Utah-specific info is particularly welcome, as is any info on groups foraging into Glacier or Yosemite -- I wanna go back to Glacier someday and also visit Yosemite.

    Thanks,

    Justin
     
  2. mhambi

    mhambi κολασμένος

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    hmmmm, Northern Utah eh? I'd be more help with Southern Utah but here goes. If I were picking a spot to spend a week or so in the backcountry in N UT it'd be the Uintas. And yes, there are bears there. But for solitude and a little fly fishing, it can't be beat. Unfortunatly I don't know of any commercial outfitters/tour operators that go into the Uintas. Somewhere I have a link that is basically a BBS for people in the state to organize hikes/rides/climbs, maybe you could find a group to go with there. I see if I can find it.

    Here's some general UT info.

    http://www.fs.fed.us/wcnf/kamas/High_Uintas_Wi.html

    http://www.go-utah.com/uinta_mountains

    http://www.utahtrails.com/ (they're selling a book but have a lot of free info)

    http://www.ogdencvb.org/ogdentrails.html


    I'll check some more to see what I can find. And if you change your mind and are willing to consider Southern UT I have a bunch more stuff bookmarked. ;f
     

  3. mhambi

    mhambi κολασμένος

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    oh, I also forgot about the Great Western Trail. You could hop on that someplace and go to it.


    http://gwt.org/
     
  4. mhambi

    mhambi κολασμένος

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  5. jthuang

    jthuang On The Jazz

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    mhambi, thanks for the informative links. I'm not wedded to northern UT by any stretch; it was what my buddy in Ogden recommended and having never lived outside Pennsylvania, I tend to trust the opinions of locals more. :) Any further info you have would be great. Thanks,

    Justin
     
  6. mhambi

    mhambi κολασμένος

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    Alright then. In Southern UT bears are less of a concern. Unless you're up high someplace like the Aquarius Plateau there aren't many bears. Mountain Lions yes, but bears no. ;) I guess it comes down to what you want out of the experience. If its about the solitude and depressurization then I'd probably pass on the commercial group thing. The safety concerns are valid though. In southern UT the fairly new Grand Staircase Escalante Nat'l Monument would be a good bet. In September the temperatures might even be bearable. ;) Many places there you could go a whole week without seeing anybody. Then again, many parts you'd see lots. If you want a more commercial option then there's lots of 'tour' type operators that could take you to some cool places. One day maybe I'll be one of them. ;) Pine Valley Wilderness Area is where I grew up and would be a good solitude type place. I did a 4 day backpacking trip and never saw anyone outside of our group (4). Any way, to sum up my pointless ramblings if I were choosing the type of trip you outline (in Utah) I'd go with the High Uintas in the North or GSE in the South.

    More links than you can shake a stick at.

    http://www.ut.blm.gov/monument/
    http://groups.msn.com/UtahHikingClub/messageboard.msnw (pretty weak)
    http://www.canyoneeringusa.com/utah/index.htm (canyoneering)
    http://www.moabdesertadventures.com/
    http://www.climb-utah.com/index.htm (more canyoneering)
    http://www.deserthighlights.com/
    http://www.zionadventures.com/
    http://utahoutdoors.com/
    http://www.uoflife.com/hac/ (cool trip reports and such)
    http://www.so-utah.com/feature/homepage.html
    http://www.moab-utah.com/hummer/
    http://www.earth-tours.com/
    http://www.escalante-utah.com/
    http://members.color-country.net/~gsexpeditions/
    http://www.hondoo.com/hikes.htm
    http://www.canyonlandsbynight.com/


    ...just to get you started. :)
     
  7. jthuang

    jthuang On The Jazz

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    Many thanks, I will check those out!

    Justin
     
  8. ClonaKilty

    ClonaKilty

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    If you're still interested in going to Yosemite, I'm going with this group in two weeks

    www.swsmtns.com


    This is another good group, learned to rock climb w/them:
    http://www.mtadventure.com/

    You can also join up w/people who are going to Yosemite, for free. PM me if you want more info.
     
  9. jthuang

    jthuang On The Jazz

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    AAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrgh. Wish I would have known about that group earlier. I have never been to Yosemite but my parents honeymooned there and I have pics of Half Dome and El Capitan all over my apartment (next to the F14 Tomcat and AH64 Apache, hehe).

    I didn't get a chance to fully review that site but I'll have to check out that group next summer and get on one of their Yosemite trips next year. My vaca schedule for the summer is already set otherwise I'd try to get in on that Aug 4 Yosemite trip. I'm still reviewing all those sites mhambi listed for the September Utah trip but next year, Yosemite here I come!

    Thanks for the site!

    Justin
     
  10. Porter Rockwell

    Porter Rockwell Great Guns

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    I second the motion on the Uintahs. They have some small lakes up there for a canoe and great for fishing. As for the bears...don't worry too much about it. It is rare to find/run into a brown bear in Utah. As to the black bears, yes there are here. The drought conditions have made it really bad for wildlife and they are coming down in lower elevations for food.

    However, the blackies are small and will usually scurry off (Generally even when hungry). My buddy who is a park ranger has told me the bigger issue is with the big cats! The deer are coming down lower to find food, therefore the kitty's are following them down.

    There have been some encounters with us two legged folks in the past few months. A friend of mine had a bother who was out hiking about 30 miles north of Salt Lake and had a cougar tracking him. The brother separated from the group. He was lucky to have a two way with him. His buddy (whom he left behind) had a good pair of binocs with him and radioed to let him him that he was being followed. He used his range finder and told him to aim at 30 yards and take the cat out (with a bow by the way). He did shoot the cat, they never found it, but it didn't bother them anymore.

    There have been other big cat sightings. This is what makes me a little nervous. I take my 12g shotgun with slugs and my .44 on my hip with 240-260 grain (should be adequate with brownies and cats)when I move away from camp.

    Some have sugessted the old halloween mask trick if you r hiking alone. I probably will if I'm alone. To this point, I have been with others and not had any sightings or problems. By the way, another reason I pich the Uintahs is becasue I can carry w/o a problem. Southern Utah is great, but you cannot carry into any National Park.

    By the way, a friend of mine lives in Jersey and owns a great cabin in the Pocanos. I love eastern PA!! If I had my pick for a place to be, it would be Eastern Pa or Western Washington. You really can't beat the beauty of the Deleware Water Gap area in NJ and PA. I just loved it there! Good luck in Utah.

    Porter.
     
  11. mhambi

    mhambi κολασμένος

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  12. jthuang

    jthuang On The Jazz

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    Great, more bears! ;f

    I have been sifting through all those sites (and more). I'm seeing a lot of "we'll put you up in a cabin" and "bring your family for some nice easy hikes" stuff. Not my first choice.

    However, I did not seriously consider the canyoneering trips outlined above. They seem more my speed. Will keep everyone posted.

    Justin