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switchbackkid

What is your trip planning procedure?

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switchbackkid

Just curious how everyone goes about planning their trips/hikes from scratch in areas they have never been or have no friends in the area to get insight from. Most of my trips have been in places I am Familiar with or I went with someone who was familiar with the area. How ever this season I plan to do a lot of hiking alone and checking out lots of places I have never been! So lets just start from you see an awesome photo on instagram and say I'm going to go hike that trail! Do you call the park office and get info, go deep searching through the internet, get in touch with local people and ask them questions? I have done a few trips before just off a whim where I look up camping options and trails to hike off my phone that same day but I feel like in order to get the most out of a trip and see the best views and camp in the best locations there needs to be deeper planning and I'm wondering how most of you go about planning a trip? 

thanks!

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Aaron

For me once I decide on a general location or destination I take a deep dive into maps. I start with Google Maps and use the terrain and satellite views to get general ideas about the elevation, the trailheads or possible starting points to drive to, and what type of terrain I'll be dealing with (flat, steep, and the general ecosystem overall). I might do a little internet searching, but I honestly try to keep that to a minimum so as to not spoil too much of the trip. Once I get a general overview, I'll take another dive into more detailed maps like National Geographic Trails Illustrated and USGS topos. At that point, I'm likely to have determined potential destinations within the destination or routes that look appealing, the water resupply strategy, and a trip will start to take shape.

The complete it out, if I don't already have the Delorme Atlas for that state I'll pick one up which I find greatly helps with getting to and from the starting points. After researching weather, the potential for snow pack, etc. I'll make sure I have good paper maps of the area and download the needed USGS topos to Gaia GPS and hit the road!

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jay

I usually use something like Google maps and some of the touristy sites to get a rough idea of what might be around that is interesting but try to get as much info as possible from sites like this.  it is a good way to find a “boots on the ground” point of view.  A backpacker’s perspective is often a bit different from a tourist’s, in my opinion.

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switchbackkid
On 5/12/2018 at 12:07 PM, Aaron said:

For me once I decide on a general location or destination I take a deep dive into maps. I start with Google Maps and use the terrain and satellite views to get general ideas about the elevation, the trailheads or possible starting points to drive to, and what type of terrain I'll be dealing with (flat, steep, and the general ecosystem overall). I might do a little internet searching, but I honestly try to keep that to a minimum so as to not spoil too much of the trip. Once I get a general overview, I'll take another dive into more detailed maps like National Geographic Trails Illustrated and USGS topos. At that point, I'm likely to have determined potential destinations within the destination or routes that look appealing, the water resupply strategy, and a trip will start to take shape.

The complete it out, if I don't already have the Delorme Atlas for that state I'll pick one up which I find greatly helps with getting to and from the starting points. After researching weather, the potential for snow pack, etc. I'll make sure I have good paper maps of the area and download the needed USGS topos to Gaia GPS and hit the road!

Thanks Aaron, great info! I have been getting very into topo maps lately and bought myself a nice compass and have really been enjoying learning how to use it and actually being able to understand where I am at all times. I still have a lot to learn but I like doing a lot of my hiking solo so it will be more of a safe, confident feeling if you will when I start doing bigger trips on my own. I like your idea of not digging too deep as to ruin some of the gems on the trail and pretty much already know it all before you get there kinda thing! 

What is Gaia GPS? I have been debating whether I should bring an electronic GPS along with my topos and compass but I'm big into photography so another heavy electronic unit along with all my cameras and other gear i'm still weighing the pros and cons... 

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switchbackkid
On 5/13/2018 at 11:21 AM, jay said:

I usually use something like Google maps and some of the touristy sites to get a rough idea of what might be around that is interesting but try to get as much info as possible from sites like this.  it is a good way to find a “boots on the ground” point of view.  A backpacker’s perspective is often a bit different from a tourist’s, in my opinion.

Yeah for sure, I definitely agree that talking to other backpackers in person or online will get you way better information than a regular tourist or even a local that hasn't been there in person. I'm the kinda guy that likes everything so planned that nothing goes wrong but in reality something always goes wrong anyway because thats just life so i need to learn to just get enough info to make the trip and then enjoy the journey and pivot when I need to. I think they call it over analysis paralysis... haha i believe back packing is meant to be more of a learning as you go journey than a task executed perfectly so i'm working on chilling out a bit lol

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Aaron
6 minutes ago, switchbackkid said:

What is Gaia GPS? I have been debating whether I should bring an electronic GPS along with my topos and compass but I'm big into photography so another heavy electronic unit along with all my cameras and other gear i'm still weighing the pros and cons...

Gaia GPS is a smartphone app that allows you to save and use maps offline and of course can also locate your position if you want - more info and some screenshots here: 

I like to do the majority of my navigation using more of an overview map like a Trails Illustrated map, etc., just because I find it a bit tedious to print out and keep swapping between multiple paper USGS topos on longer trips. With Gaia GPS I can download all the USGS topos (and many other maps as well) for a very large area beforehand to my phone for reference and if needed, while using 1 or 2 broader paper maps the majority of the time. 

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balzaccom

First I spend time on sites like this one to hear what my fellow hikers like and think.

Then I do the map thing--I use acmemapper-- to check out elevation, water sources, etc.  Lots and lots if time with maps.

Then I certainly contact the local rangers to get their take on current conditions and any changes in regulations etc.

But this is an iterative process:. Lots of back and forth, changing routes and mileage, etc.

Check in, get the permit and last minute beta from rangers...

Then I finally hit the trail...and almost always change some part of the route along the way!

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