Beginner hiker in BC

11:58 a.m. on December 2, 2013 (EST)
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I plan on visiting a friend in Kelowna in the coming weeks, and I am thinking of hiking the Kettle Valley Trail from Castlegar to Kelowna. It is a few hundred kilometers I think, I  have never done anything like this before, and if I do end up doing it I will be braving it alone. So I guess I was wondering if this a realistic plan for someone with no experience with multi day hikes; and no real idea of how long it would take me.. I guess I was wondering what my expectations should be concerning: how far I could realistically travel each day, things I should plan for and consider, and the best and most essential of things to pack. Also any tips on dealing with potential winter conditions are extremely welcome.

Thanks in advance!
 Sincerely,

Solomon

12:21 p.m. on December 2, 2013 (EST)
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Hi Solomon.  Sounds like you are planning a pretty ambitious first trip.  I am not a thru hiker so I have never done a trip that is a few hundred kilometers but I have hiked hundreds of miles/kilometers in many different places in many different weather conditions over the years.  My first suggestion would be to get out and hike as much as possible between now any your trip and test whatever gear and clothing you have.  Also, see what pace you can comfortably do in different terrain.  Make notes as to what pace you can do and make notes of what gear you may or may not need.  There is a wealth of information and checklists on this site as far as gear you may need so I would suggest searching that.  One of my other big suggestions would be to make sure you have comfortable and quality footwear/boots that won't give you blisters and will keep your feet warm.  That is an absolute must for any type of hike.  

It really is not advisable to take on a first trip like this.  Especially a solo trip.  You really should consider taking some baby steps and learn about what you can and can't do.  Learn how to utilize different gear.  If you are up against potential winter conditions then essential gear and the knowledge/experience to use it properly is a must.  Without the right gear, knowledge and drive you could potentially get yourself in over your head and end up with catastrophic results.  You definitely do not want to end up having to have search and rescue come to your aid or worse.   

You mentioned it is a few hundred kilometers "I think".  It would be best for you to do your research with maps and find out EXACTLY what you are up against.  I would not attempt a hike like you mention without knowing exactly what the parameters of the hike are: distance, terrain, possible weather conditions, animals, water, etc. etc.  

Good luck and again consider taking some baby steps before you take a big leap.  Welcome to Trailspace.  There is a ton of great information and resources here for ambitious new hikers and people interested in gear.  You just have to do your homework.  

1:21 p.m. on December 2, 2013 (EST)
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Back in September, I did a 32-mile section hike of the River-to-River Trail with three guys who'd hiked it before, and one of whom worked there. Even we got turned-around and off the trail at times. Originally I entertained the thought of doing a section hike down there by myself. After hiking it with the group, I was glad I didn't do it solo.

TS is an invaluable resource, and I've met many people who generously volunteer their help, experience, and opinions.

Better to answer your curiousities here, with the help of the community, than be stuck solving them out on the trail...especially by yourself.

The folks you'll meet are here to help, and make sure you enjoy your time outdoors as much as they do. 

That said, welcome to TS!

3:11 p.m. on December 2, 2013 (EST)
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When it comes to thru-hiking backpacking, it's best to adopt a crawl-walk-run plan.  Jason's post spells this out very well -- get out and do some day hikes, then overnighters, then multi-day treks, while constantly testing and evaluating every piece of your gear. 

What you're proposing is akin to, say, wanting to run a half-marathon without ever having jogged around the block, let alone completed some 5K and 10K races.

It'll help you a lot to get some experience under you belt via the iterative process.  You're more likely to be successful that way.

And welcome to TS!

4:42 p.m. on December 2, 2013 (EST)
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Solomon,

 

Depending on how new you are to this you should probably start here:

 

http://www.trailspace.com/articles/ten-essentials.html

 

This is a nice article on the fundamental things all backcountry travelers should carry.

This site has tons of great information in the forums and articles but can be hard to search. A good tip is to use google to search this site:

 

For example, if you wanted to search the Trailspace forums for the topic of insulation, go to google and type:

insulation site:trailspace.com/forums

It seems odd but works pretty well.

 

Welcome!

 

12:01 p.m. on December 4, 2013 (EST)
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Solomon, the KVR is a great hike, but an even better ride on a mountain/touring bike. This time of year, you have the possibility of snow. As the others have indicated, start on shorter hikes. There are sections of the trail that are reasonable distance between towns(and wineries in certain sections). Again, most people tackle this by bicycle in the fairer months. While a railroad grade, you are likely to encounter winter conditions.

10:34 a.m. on December 5, 2013 (EST)
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Thanks for the reply Erich, and that goes for everyone else as well. I know this may seem a little odd; but I'm actually sort of hoping for snow. The thought of hiking through a silent wilderness with snow falling all around sounds like a sort of magical experience, I am going to buy some hiking boots in the next few days and start hiking through Lynn Headwaters regularly as I live quite close to there, since I do get that it's a good idea to wear in the necessary muscles before embarking on a multi-day hike like this.

Since starting this thread I have decided that I will not be leaving from Castlegar, but from Hope instead; as the greyhound trip is much more affordable. I know there are quite a few mountains around hope so I was wondering if you (or anybody) has any idea of how hilly this route would be. Here is an outline of the 330km route I will be taking -
hope-bc.jpg

Thanks again everyone, your input is much appreciated.

11:36 a.m. on December 5, 2013 (EST)
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The entire route is on a railroad grade, so "hilly" is not really a term I would use to describe the trail. There will be mountains that surround you, but the climbing will be gradual. There can be much snow, so snow shoes or skis will be necessary. Again, even though this is an old rr grade, in winter it will be an expedition, with potential for avalanches in the mountains. I will also point out that there may be some missing trestles. They have tried to replace the ones that have fallen or burned(like Myra Canyon) but there may be others that you may have to hike around.

3:07 a.m. on December 8, 2013 (EST)
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I rode the Midway to Myra Canyon stretch. The trail by the lake can be QUITE wet, riddled with huge puddles.

It is really beautiful in places. Make sure all of the trestles are in place at Myra Canyon. They were still repairing (number 4?) one last July.

Be prepared for a unique experience which includes lots of wildlife, including rodents ;). You will pass through or near many towns should you need to get warm, reload, or get a room or a shower. Near the lake is a cross country shelter. They have vault toilets there and the room often remains unlocked.

Try to stay at Paul Lautard's caboose bikers' rest stop. He's 93 or so, built the caboose himself, and LOVES company.

Good luck!!

6:01 a.m. on December 8, 2013 (EST)
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Alright thanks for all the heads-ups erich. I'm starting to second guess the whole idea a little bit, maybe it is a little too ambitious for me. Especially since it is getting kind of chilly out. I am looking into alternative shorter routes though, that'll be the only way I'll go through with this I think. I've just never really tested myself, physically or mentally. I feel like I need to do something like this as a sort of 'self discovery' journey; but maybe it's silly to think that I'll learn anything about myself out there..

6:08 a.m. on December 8, 2013 (EST)
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You make it sound really cool second gear, that's one of the reasons I want to go on this hike; to reconnect with nature (I love rodents too, had a few pet rats in my day). and hopefully get to know myself a little better in the process. I didn't even think of the possibility of greyhounding to midway and going from  there until I read your message; but you make it sound pretty appealing with all the small towns and everything. If I end up doing this I'll post a travel journal kind-of-thing on here if you guys would be interested at all.

8:20 a.m. on December 8, 2013 (EST)
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Solomon Rzemieniak said:

... I've just never really tested myself, physically or mentally. I feel like I need to do something like this as a sort of 'self discovery' journey; but maybe it's silly to think that I'll learn anything about myself out there..

 Not silly at all. What would be silly would be to go off unprepared, but going is always a good idea! You can't start with the big adventures though.  Start with day hikes, get comfortable in your boots and keep expanding your horizons.  You'll never run out of places to explore or things to learn about yourself out there.

7:50 p.m. on December 8, 2013 (EST)
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Solomon, you should consider going in the summer. As second gear says, it is really beautiful. From Hope east through the mountains right now, it will be more than chilly, and the snow will be quite deep. 

9:43 p.m. on December 9, 2013 (EST)
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Solomon, while I appreciate your ambition, if you have no experience on multi-day hikes, this may not be the trip for you. I am not familiar with the area, but right now (6:30pm) it is -5C in Kelowna (internet). I see quite a few websites devoted to the trail and it looks like in winter, the weather could be fairly severe on some parts.

My caution is not based on whether you are fit or not, but whether you have the right gear and some experience with it - proper clothes, shelter, sleeping gear, cooking gear and food are all needed for this kind of trip.

My advice would be to get a few trips under your belt, then attempt something like this under better weather conditions than you are likely to find in winter.

10:28 p.m. on December 9, 2013 (EST)
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Solomon, I agree with Tom and LoneStranger.  While the trail goes through and near small towns and sidings, it really isn't as "tame" as you might think. There is a reason why the railroad was SO hard to build, and why it went defunct.  It really is pretty "wild and wooly" in places out there.  And it's far enough between havens that if you get in trouble, it doesn't matter if you are 5 or 50 kilometers, you are in trouble. 

Before anything, take some day shake down trips somewhere.  Then try an overnighter with your gear. You don't wan to freeze any body parts off out there ;)

But DO go do this trail!  You won't be sorry :D!! (Just do it when it's warmer!)

November 27, 2014
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