Backpacking through the wilderness requires desire, planning and preparation. If you’ve got all three, any reasonably healthy person can enjoy trekking through the backcountry for a few days, weeks or even longer!
I’ve been backpacking since I was a teenager, and my favorite stomping grounds are the Sierras. When I graduated from high school, I took a month and backpacked the entire length of the John Muir Trail — from Yosemite to Mt. Whitney — and continued on to Cottonwood Lakes. The solitude, the beauty, and the experience of striking out and knowing you can manage on your own is an unforgettable combination.
While the primary focus of SoCal Hiker is on the varied and beautiful local trails in Orange County (and bits beyond), I can’t help but share my love for backpacking. There are many excellent resources for backpacking. What I will share here are local backpacking trips that I’ve personally taken — like the Trans-Catalina Trail –and what I’ll call epic backpacking adventures. The John Muir Trail is one such epic adventure, and thirty years later, I’m heading back to hike it from end-to-end once more.
How do you top a trip like the JMT? I’m not sure that’s possible, but for 2011 and beyond, I am eyeing the following epic backpacking adventures. I’ll do all of them at some point; it’s just a matter of when.
The Coast-to-Coast Walk spans the country of England. You start by dipping your toes in the Irish Sea on the west coast, and end by dipping them in the North Sea to the east. As an added bonus, you hike from inn to inn, get a hot meal for breakfast and dinner and sleep in a bed each night. Not too shabby!
Thumbing through Backpacker magazine I learned about the Via Alpina through the Alps. The complete trail system is only five years old and extends nearly 3,500 miles through 8 countries — a bit more than I care to tackle (at least at the moment). But there’s a beautiful 100 mile section through the Swiss Alps that sounds perfect. And like the Coast-to-Coast walk, this can also be hiked from village-to-village.
Finally, I will eventually hike to Machu Picchu in the Peruvian Andes. Maybe not in 2011 (my hiking partner is favoring Europe) but possibly in 2012. This trip can actually be easily done in one week.
Yes, I know there are plenty of other great, epic trips here in North America, and I’ll get to those, too. I’ve toyed with the idea of someday hiking the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, but at this point of my life, it’s out of the question. As it is, hiking the John Muir Trail will take a little over three weeks — the longest stretch of vacation time I’ve ever taken!
What about you? What’s on your life list? Any epic adventures I should consider adding to my list?