View Full Version : Backpacking the SW in Feb
11-30-2009, 05:28 AM
The wife and I are considering a longer backpacking trip in the southwest this coming Feb. We would like it to be about 2 weeks long and cover roughly 80 miles depending on elevation gain. Warm weather would be great of course. I am thinking either Joshua Tree...?
11-30-2009, 06:34 AM
You could do the southern part of the CDT. Then you could have something to look foward to doing again and again until you eventually complete it!
11-30-2009, 03:26 PM
Grand Canyon. Hard to find a better wilderness experience in the entire southwest. February is a nice time in my opinion to head down there. The rim will be snowy and dramatic, but the Tonto Plateau (nearly halfway down) and the bottom will be pretty nice.
I've hiked roughly 80% of the trails and routes in the park and can't get enough.
11-30-2009, 03:56 PM
I have been looking at both the CTD and the Grand Canyon, both look great. I was at the GC last year in Jan and thought it was one of the coolest things I have ever seen.
Flounder, if you were to link up the trails how long could you stay down there? I am guessing you cannot send food /water caches ahead. I think for that hike water weight would be the limiting factor unless we can plan reliable water stops in out itinerary.
12-09-2009, 12:20 PM
Two weeks in the Canyon is a long haul. They key is to find a route that doesn't have you going up and down every other day as Canyon hiking can be very rugged. You can do a number of routes that will put you close to two weeks without many challenges with water. A popular longer route is to hike the Tonto Plateau traverse, but it gets boring. I do like to use the Tonto to link other trails. In the Canyon, hiking East/West is almost always done on the Tonto Trail along the south side. I traversed the north Tonto in '97 and since it's a "route" and not a "trail" it was 16 days of the most rugged hiking of my entire life. The southern Tonto is the ticket.
For example you could head down the New Hance which is 20ish miles East of the village. That takes you down to the river. From there you hike up onto the Tonto Plateau with water at Horseshoe Mesa (9 miles away), Cottonwood Creek (4 miles further), and then Indian Gardens another day away. From there you could go down to Phantom Ranch, do a side trip up Phantom or Clear Creek, maybe up to the North Rim, etc.
Caching food in the canyon is tricky. Protecting the food is the biggest challenge as mice eat through everything to get to food. My previous caches have been done with the okay of the park service as I was doing water surveys at the time, so you might double check with them about food caching. If they green light caching, you could cache at Indian Gardens with a short day hike before you start. I know some hikers have sent caches down to Phantom by mule, but again you'd have to arrange that with not only the park service mule service but the independent operator at Phantom Ranch.
Mileage in the Canyon is tough mileage and everyone tackles different daily distances. Last year a buddy and I did a loop in 3 days. We met another group doing the same loop in reverse in 5 days. So, much depends on how far you want to travel per day. I'm of the opinion that 12-15 miles along the Tonto is my max, but it is relatively flat walking. Going down I can handle 7-12. Going up is about the same.
It's an amazing place. My hands down favorite places are (google images): Hance Rapids, Horseshoe Mesa/Cottonwood CREEK, Phantom Creek, Thunder River, the South Bass Trail, etc. I've hiked over 1000 miles down there starting when I was 5 in 1976. Never gets old.
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