Archive for the 'Hiking' Category

West Coast Trail, & Hiking Speed/Times, Compared to US Long Distance Trails

A friend, my daughter and I just completed the West Coast Trail and the experience was as incredible as advertised. In fact this was the best hike/backpacking trip all three of us had ever been on.  I have read many guidebooks on the trail and forums, and just about everyone said that if you are in great shape and bust ass, you could do it in 4 nights and 5 days. I could not find anyone comparing hiking times/speeds of the WCT to some the PCT, CDT, CT, or AT. This stressed me a out a little bit since we did the hike with my 15 year old daughter, and though she isn’t new to hard backpacking trips, she can bonk at times. Eric, our super-fit trip partner, wanted to try to attempt to do the trip in 3 days and 4 nights. We have a pretty good baseline for long distance hiking speeds in the US, from the Colorado Trail, and parts of the PCT, CDT, and AT. On those hikes we average about 2.5 MPH on a trip, and through difficult sustained climbs, might slow down to about 2 MPH or a little less.  When we checked into the Parks Canada office, the ranger scoffed at the three of us for requesting passes for 4 nights. This became a theme for our trip. We would meet new people or camp with a group of people, exchange itineraries and beta since we were often heading in separate directions, and be told that we would not be able to reach whatever destination we were attempting to get to. On the second to the last night we were told more than once in no uncertain terms, that we would not finish in time. So how hard is the West Coast Trail compared to US long distance trails? Below is a breakdown of our speeds and distances per day:

  • Day1 – Began hiking at 12:18, finished at 19:09, 30-45 minutes spent between Pachena Lighthouse and sea lion watching, camping at Darling River campsite.
    • 14 KM/8.69 Miles (2.04 KM/H | 1.3 MPH), average moving speed (eliminating stops above, pictures, and other breaks) closer to 2.86 KM/H 1.75 MPH
  • Day2 – Began hiking at 07:15, finished at 17:00, 90 minutes spent between wandering around beach near hole-in-the-wall, Tsusiat Falls, and waiting for ferry, camping at cabin at Nitinat Narrows.
    • 18.25 KM/11.34 Miles (1.87 KM/H | 1.16 MPH), average moving speed (eliminating stops above, pictures, and other breaks) closer to 2.57 KM/H 1.6 MPH
  • Day3 – Began hiking at 07:15, finished at 15:00, mostly beach hiking, go caught scrambling/slipping with class3/4 moves early on beach to get ahead of rising tide. Spent about 30 minutes at Carmenah Lighthouse, camping at Walbran Creek
    • 20.75KM/12.89 Miles (2.67 KM/H | 1.66 MPH), average moving speed (eliminating stops above, pictures, and other breaks) closer to 2.86 KM/H 1.75 MPH
  • Day4 – Began hiking at 7:30, finished at 17:15, quick stretches of hiking on boardwalks, followed by several bogs, 90 minutes spent napping/eating at Camper Creek, camping at Thrasher Cove
    • 18 KM/11.18 Miles (1.84 KM/H | 1.15 MPH), average moving speed (eliminating stops above, pictures, and other breaks) closer to 2.25 KM/H 1.4 MPH
  • Day5 – Began hiking at 7:30, finished at 10:10, quick stretch, good path, lots of short ups and downs, finishing at the Gordon River Ferry
    • 6 KM/3.72 Miles (2.26 KM/H | 1.4 MPH), average moving speed (eliminating stops above, pictures, and other breaks) closer to 2.4 KM/H 1.5 MPH

So the takeaways?  The first thing I need to mention is that we had fantastic weather. It did rain about 2-3 inches the night before we began (while we camped at the Gordon River Area), so the trail was a bit boggy. Other than that we could not ask for better weather with no precipitation whatsoever, clear skies and little wind. Another thing I need to mention is that we were kind of forced to hit the trail early 2-3 mornings to get ahead of the tide and past a coastal section where there were no inland alternatives. This lead to us getting the bulk of our hiking done by lunch each day.

The trail is obviously harder/slower on average than the big 3 in the US, as evident by the average moving speeds. The reasons being the need to constantly balance on slick stuff, avoid (if possible) deep boggy areas by carefully stepping on rocks/sticks/whatever, trying not to break your leg when stepping between ridiculous amounts of root networks, utilizing cable cars, and climbing up and down ladders. I thing one of the things that slowed us down most is simply stopping to take in all of the amazing views/places, and taking photos. The West Coast Trail has an insane amount of beauty-per-mile, so that in itself slows you down. We made sure to stay on the beach the third day, as long as we could, past Chez Monique’s. This stretch of beach is insanely beautiful, and quite easy to hike provided you are ahead of the tide. We also made it a point to avoid the beach on the last two days since it gets pretty gnarly, and we already got to experience that a bit early on the third day.

We could have finished the hike in 3 nights/4 days, if we would have pushed a couple of hours longer on the second or third day. We chose not to mainly because we didn’t really have much of a reason to rush (see 15:00 stop time on day 3), and because we were wary of pushing hard only to miss the Gordon River Ferry cut-off time of 15:30.  Eric mentioned that he and I could probably come back and knock it out in 3 days/ 2 nights, which seems like a reasonable goal. Both of us have hiked a handful/half dozen days or so over 32.19 KM/ 20 Miles while my daughter’s longest day to date is about 27.36 KM / 17 M.

Some people suggested that even if we could finish in 5 days/4 nights, we would miss so much due to being in a hurry. I do not think that was the case at all. We stopped at literally everything that interested us, took naps on the beach, stayed at the narrow and hung out, ate crab, spent time at both lighthouses, and visited all of the waterfalls. I feel like we saw just about everything we wanted to see other than somehow missing what I assume is an Orca skeleton at the Carmanah Lighthouse. If Chez Monique’s was open we would have spent an hour or so there, which would not have effected out schedule much since we finished hiking at 15:00 that day. That being said the risk for injury will go way up if we push hard for speed, since there are so many damn places to hurt ones self. I think some of our recent class 3 scrambling trips in the mountains of Colorado helped us with balance and moving quick on uneven surfaces.

Below are our galleries for the trip:

2018 Trip Checklist Update

  • West Coast Trail
  • CT Segment 8
  • CT Segments 18-21 – Going to be dry
  • San Luis Peak
  • Castle and Conundrum
  • Padre – Failed, redo 3.19
  • Longs, Mt. Lady Washington, Storm
  • Mt. Taylor
  • Blanca and Ellingwood, Lindsey – Will likely punt due to fire
  • Culebra
  • Challenger, Kit Carson, Columbia Point, Obstruction, Humbolt
  • Mosquito Gulch (Loveland, Buckskin, Tweto, Treasurevault, Mosquito, Kuss, London) — Will likely punt due to fire
  • Alphabetizer Loop Lost Creek Wilderness (12.2 miles 4000 feet) X and Y prime, Y and Z and zyphyr – Probably winter/late shoulder season
  • Antero
  • Mt. Holy Cross
  • Sunshine, Handies, Redcloud, Sun Dog (Silver Creek camp)
  • East and West Spanish Peaks – Will likely punt due to fire
  • Roache’s Massive Mania
  • Santa Fe, Morgan, Sullivan, Geneva, Landslide
  • Square Top, Decatur Revenue, Silver (this might be combined with trip above if we camp)
  • Lower Gunnison Paddleboarding 3-day trip (https://rootsrated.com/stories/canoeing-colorado-s-lower-gunnison-river-the-perfect-beginner-trip-on)
  • Fremont10- Hayden Pass to North Decker Creek Traverse (https://www.summitpost.org/hayden-pass-to-north-decker-creek-traverse/723624) – Moving this to next year

So on to plan B?

2018 Trip Checklist

  • West Coast Trail
  • Padre
  • Longs. Mt. Lady Washington, Storm
  • Mt. Taylor
  • Blanca and Ellingwood, Lindsey
  • Challenger, Kit Carson, Humbolt
  • Culebra
  • Challenger, Kit Carson, Columbia Point, Obstruction, Humbolt
  • Mosquito Gulch (Loveland, Buckskin, Tweto, Treasurevault, Mosquito, Kuss, London)
  • Alphabetizer Loop Lost Creek Wilderness (12.2 miles 4000 feet) X and Y prime, Y and Z and zyphyr
  • Antero
  • Mt. Holy Cross
  • Sunshine, Handies, Redcloud, Sun Dog (Silver Creek camp)
  • East and West Spanish Peaks
  • Massive
  • Santa Fe, Morgan, Sullivan, Geneva, Landslide
  • Square Top, Decatur Revenue, Silver (this might be combined with trip above if we camp)
  • Lower Gunnison Paddleboarding 3-day trip (https://rootsrated.com/stories/canoeing-colorado-s-lower-gunnison-river-the-perfect-beginner-trip-on)
  • CT Segment 8
  • Fremont10- Hayden Pass to North Decker Creek Traverse (https://www.summitpost.org/hayden-pass-to-north-decker-creek-traverse/723624)

Mosquito Gulch Trip

I was playing around with Caltopo during lunch one day at work, and stumbled across the Mosquito Gulch cirque section shown below:

which, at  10.69 miles and 5000 vertical ascent, offers 7 13ers:

  • Loveland
  • Buckskin
  • Tweto
  • Treasurevault
  • Mosquito
  • Kuss
  • London

There are a half dozen or more trip reports out there (like this one https://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=8533). Definitely going to have to throw this into the summer mix.

Quandary Peak Winter Climb Lessons

A buddy and I decided to go after Quandary Peak shortly before the years end after a third party backed out (rightfully) of our initial Mt. Lady Washington plans. The weather forecast called for clear, unseasonably warm (at that altitude) temperature with a moderate 35 MPH breeze at the summit. With 100 MPH winds all across the area, they were a little off on their wind estimates.

  • https://www.facebook.com/feldman81/videos/10215022322049403/
  • http://kdvr.com/2017/12/30/wind-gusts-to-nearly-100-mph-force-breckenridge-resort-to-close/

Below is a video I took in a somewhat sheltered area right above treeline after we decided to retreat at about 13,100 Ft

The lessons learned:

  1. Snow is hard, even easier 14ers are hard, so still need to start early and hydrate, get calories. The wind played a huge factor in our ascent speed, but we were ascending at 1/3 -1/4 my summer ascent speed
  2. Wind is hard, and head-wind is even harder (especially above 60 MPH) … see above
  3. Snowshoes are easier than post-holing, even if you only post-hole every 50th step or so
  4. Attach gloves and other stuff that can fly away to something
  5. Don’t leave god-damned insoles at the house (had to use an extra pair of socks that Matt brought, which severally effed my toe coming down)
  6. Spike covers are good, and in the case of quandary, snow axe not even remotely necessary, not many opportunities for glissade (could change in Spring)
  7. Figure out the damn balaclava situation, couldn’t breath with it on, glasses fogged, nose and lips shitty with it off (see 7 follow up below)
  8. Figure out where to pack everything … I am very experienced with summer backpacking/hiking, but I spent about 20 minutes shuffling shit around this trip (see 8 follow up below)
  9. I left my dam anemometer at home. I knew I wanted to bring it, and now I am pissed that I do not have an actual reading of the wind speeds we dealt with, just a rough estimate of 70-85 MPH on a couple of the stronger gusts
  10. Start early, even when you do not think you need to start early. Others summited simply because the started earlier and the wind really picked up beginning around 1 PM.
  11. Caltopo is awesome … no seriously these guys rule. Their free service provides grade slope angle shading on maps, and just about every other feature/layer you could want (www.caltopo.com)

7 – Follow up.

I was fighting my balaclava/google/hat situation the entire length of the hike. All was well when it was cold and we were stationary, but it was difficult to breath during some of the more strenous portions since the balaclava didn’t have any vents. My shitty moto googles fogged up regularly, and my nose was cold an miserable without a balaclava. I shopped around a little and decided to give these two items a go:

  • https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0175TMTOS/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o09_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
  • https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0018BJSQC/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o06_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I wore everything around the house marching up and down the stairs and this …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

is decidedly better than …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

even though I look like a B movie villian

8 – Follow up.

I spent an hour playing around with my pack earlier this week and I was able to find a good (enough) setup for everything. My snowshoes are clipped to the side of the bag, avalanche prob is right inside the main compartment, ice axe is affixed to one of the loops on the front of the bag, and the snow shovel is clipped to the front of the bag, and its handle in the front slot.  It is still a PITA to get some of the deeper items out of the main compartment. Eventually I will find a better winter bag.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Horsethief Trail Snowshoeing with Logan


https://goo.gl/photos/sRF5cg34HbLQ5fgV6

Colorado Trail 2016

  • 8.11 – Segment 12: Made it 6.4 miles in (230 start), passed on Antero due to late starts. Wasn’t feeling all that well, talked to Daniel about it until I could breath and pushed on. Short day, great campsite, met a couple of other segment hikers.
  • 8.12 – Finished segment 12: It was surprisingly long. Daniel was sick toward the end so we hitchhiked to Buena Vista, at in the old town restoration area, got a hotel room at Super 8, and got a ride to my car.  The restoration area of old Buena Vista is insanely cool. We ate at an expensive burger joint and turned in early. The shitty super 8 room was $150.
  • 8.13 – Segment 13: We woke up about 9 and at breakfast, did laundry. After we checked out we grabbed Daniel’s car, ate lunch and drove past the Princeton Hot Springs area and Cottonwood Hot Springs areas. We left my car at Rainbow Lake and took Daniel’s to the beginning of 13, hiked 2.5 miles and about 1500 feet to our campsite, which was amazing and had no one around. We both shed a lot of weight from our packs, I went from 34 to 26 and I can really feel the difference. We got a fire going and hung out and talked until about 10 PM. We are going to wake up early, climb Yale, and take the steep descent back to my car. We will probably head into town for food and then camp and fish down at Rainbow. Tomorrow will be a 16mile hike.
  • 8.14 – Segment 13: Woke up and climbed 1000 ft to Yale saddle. Ditched packs and began climbing Yale. It was rough going and slow. Daniel did not like how cliffed out so he turned around. I decided to continue. It got super dicey at around 12900 feet with steep loose rock. I pushed on until 13400 and then decided to turn around since the route was not looking any better. I carefully and slowly made my way off the mountain down to Daniel.  We hiked 3.3 miles back to my car which was now next to a crime scene. Apparently someone died in their truck. I saw that truck the day before and thought it looked a little off, just dusty and parked up against brush. We went to retrieve Daniel’s car and ate at Amicas pizza in Salida which was great. We bought pillows and blankets for the car camping nights, which should improve our sleep. Tomorrow we will finish 13 (we are just crawling along this year, usually average about 16-22 miles a day).
  • 8.15 – Finished segment 13:  Made quick time, met a through hiker named Bearcam from mass, hiked with him for about 8-10 miles until Princeton. Daniel and I decided to skip Princeton r&r day (since we had been hiking so little) and continue into 14 tomorrow instead. We should be camping at 12.2 miles tomorrow night. My right Achilles is starting to hurt … a lot, I think from Yale. We headed into Salida, ate at the boathouse, good food, checked out the two hostels for wed night, and headed to BV to see little shop of horrors at the drive in. That was an amazing experience. Tuned to 87.5 to listen, there were only four cars there. They said that Drive in was built in the 60s and was one of maybe 3 in the state. Had timesheet issues with Jo.
  • 8.16 – Segment 14: Slept at beginning of 14 and met two through hikers who got a ride down the two mile Princeton road Kelsey section (we actually met her a day later) and Joe, a retired pilot from Portland. We talked to him a bit on the hike and offered use of our car since it was staged at the end of 14 and since he wanted to go to Salida. We ran into Bearcam an hour or so into the hike and the three of us whizzed along. We got to our camp site and pitched at 12.2. My heal was hurting me pretty bad. Joe showed up about 30 mins later and we all sat around the fire talking. I finally had my mac and cheese and tuna … which I had been going on and on about through the day, and which … somehow … no one else had ever tried.
  • 8.17- Finished segment 14: I froze through the night (frost?!?) and woke up pissed that my heal was hurting,  so I packed up quickly to get a early start on the remaining 8+ miles. Joe also headed out early. I apparently passed him at some point of time. Eventually, all 4 of us ended up together and we cruised along until we finished 14. The four of us road in Daniels car to go pick my car up, and ate at Amicas for lunch. Joe, Daniel and I stayed at The great western. We headed to the laundry mat and ran into Kelsey again who was also doing laundry. It was funny that all five of us ended up there without planning it. That night we went to a sports bar across from Bearcam’s hotel and called it a night. We found out Kelsey was staying in the same hotel.
  • 8.18 – Salida day, and crazy tubing: Daniel and I woke up antsy to do something but my heel was still hurting. We drove to downtown Salida to hike their hill. The views were very nice from up there. On the way down we stopped by the Arkansas river and sat for a while with our feet in. It felt great. After that we decided to walk around a bit and we stumbled upon a little shop that rented inner-tubes. We asked the lady that worked there is there was any way to tube the Arkansas and she informed us that we could stage a car about 10 miles downstream, and that we should be able to reach it in “a couple of hours”. I think it was about 1:00. We went to go grab Kelsey and ask if she was interested in joining us (she is always game) and off we went. The water was pretty cold and Kelsey was in for a total of about 1o seconds before being sucked into a spillway where she flipped. Daniel also had issues with flipping. It started out fun and amazing, even though the water temp was probably in the 50’s. Eventually a storm rolled in, the outside temp dropped to the 40’s and the wind picked up. We were all freezing our asses off … like really freezing our asses off. Unfortunately the trip took much longer than we expected to, so by the time we came up on the bend where my car was staged … at 17:30 we were hyped out, like really hyped out. Everything hurt, hands didn’t work, heal somehow was still on fire … just a mess. We got in the car, drove back to town, saw that we had a worried message from the tube owner, so I dropped Daniel and Kelsey off to change and shower and headed out to meat the tube owner back at her store. Once there she told me she was sorry and that kayakers typically take a couple of hours. I bought a shirt, changed, picked up Kelsey and Daniel, and we headed to Boathouse Cantina for hot Chili and Hot Toddies.  We were all exhausted from freezing for 4+ hours so we called it a night.  This was by far the most memorable day of the trip for me.
  • 8.19 – Segment 15: We woke up relatively early, picked everyone up and staged my car at the end of Segment 15. We then crammed into Daniel’s car and drove about an hour to the beginning of 15. The hike up to the pass was beautiful and the weather was great. We all kept together and took turns at various positions (leading/trailing) and discussed just about everything. We finished the 14.3 miles pretty quickly and pitched our tents at the beginning of Segment 16, in a nice pasture (though there was a lot of horse shit). Kelsey Daniel and I figure we would get a jump on things and go ahead and stage my car at the end of 16. So we went and picked up Daniel’s car, and began our drive. We had no idea the staging trip would take about 3 hours. The end of 16 was WAY out in the sticks, requiring a 45 minute off road drive just to get to the end. We finally reached the end, found a safe place to leave Ted (Daniel’s car) and began heading back. I was worried that Bearcam and Joe were going to be worried since we were gone so long so I began hauling ass down the dirt road (which wasn’t the kind of road you haul ass on). About 10 minutes into my rally race, I blew my back tire on something and pulled over to put on my donut. The rest of the trip was much slower. We limped back to the campsite with Jo’s warm bear around midnight.
  • 8.20 – New tire, meeting the gang: I decided first thing in the morning that I needed to spend that day sorting out my tire situation. My heel was still hurting and I had no idea what I was going to do regarding the tire. My tires were about 6 weeks old, and all under warranty so I was hoping that I could just find a new one, throw it on and meet up with the gang. Since I have AWD, I really needed to get a new tire before totaling my slip differential/car (and I had already driven about 80 miles on it). I went into Salida and pulled over to clean out my car. I stopped by the hotel we had stayed at to borrow a phone and phone book (service is shit there) and began calling around. Nothing in BV, nothing in Leadville, a couple of places in Salida, though when I called them they said they did not have the replacement tire … shit. I found a place that was willing to sell me an old tire that was closer to the circumference of my new tires, though still about .75 inches off, so I could then drive about 1.5-2 hours into Pueblo to get my new tire under warranty. Needless to say this took all damn day. I finished around dinner and tried quickly to head up to meet the gang for our farewell dinner. I reached the end of segment 16 around sundown, and everyone was hunkered down in their tents to avoid cold rain/drizzle/hail (I think elevation was around 11,500 feet). I showed up, got out firewood, got a fire going, broke out hotdogs and beer, and we had our final dinner. I slept in the car, woke up early to say goodbye to everyone, and then was on my way back to one last Salida meal with Daniel. This part of the trail had the best primitive toilet I had ever seen on a trail.

Who broke wind?

2016 Trip/Hike plans

  • Castle and Conundrum, 13.5 M, 4600 gain, Difficult Class 2
  • Harvard and Columbia, 15.00 M, 6100 gain, Class 2
  • Blanca and Ellingwood, 18 M, 6800 gain, Class 3
  • Missouri Mountain 10.5 M, 4500 gain, Class 2
  • Huron Peak 6.5 M 3500 gain, Class 2
  • Mt Antero 6.5 M, 2785 gain, Class 2
  • Sunshine, Handies, Redcloud, San Loius
  • Woodland Park Wreck site
  • St Mary’s Hike/Climb
  • Gunnison Camp
  • Yellowstone
  • Finish Colorado Trail (Segs14-28)
  • TWA Flight Hike – Sandia
  • Mount Greylock, Jerimoth Hill, Mount Frissell
  • Ice Climbing Trip
  • Red Rock Climb
  • Snow Shoe Trips
  • Blodgett Camping Trip



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