National Forest Hiking Tour

5:47 p.m. on June 24, 2008 (EDT)
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My two friends and I are planning a road trip around the country basically starting from Pennsylvania.

Our basic game plan is to visit national forests out west on our way back from the music festival, 10,000 Lakes in Minnesota. We expect to stop at certain parks we see along the way and hike for a couple days or so in a good number of them. We hope to spend 3 days at the most hiking in each forest we stop at.

What I'm here for is to see if anyone has any ideas of things we need such as hiking supplies, ie water food or any other items I might have missed. We are just trying to be prepared as we can without having this turn out to be a family vacation, if you know what I mean.

Any suggestions and ideas would be much appreciated. We have a lot already worked out but I want to make sure I'm not missing anything obvious.

Thanks again.

9:34 p.m. on June 24, 2008 (EDT)
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Shras23, You may want to consider going on a guided hiking or backpacking trip in one of these areas first. If you can at all afford it, this would be money well spent. If not, at least get a book on hiking and read it, it should answer a lot of questions for you. Stick to short hikes for a while.

A reputable guide can take all the guess work out of a hiking trip, and let you have fun.
Most guides provide a good bit of gear, and give you a list of the stuff you need to bring/purchase before your trip. Guide services have websites that will give you a lot of cool info too.
Afterwards you will be amazed at how much you can learn in a couple days with a good guide.

Just for an example here is one website in Utah.
http://www.redrocknllamas.com/

Good luck man

5:25 p.m. on June 25, 2008 (EDT)
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Something I should have mentioned in my earlier post is to read the 10 Essentials, which is available on this website.
Here is the link.
http://www.trailspace.com/gear/guide/ten-essentials.html
This will help you find out if you have over looked anything obvious. Also you really can't be too prepared, but I know what you mean.
Have fun!

11:53 p.m. on June 25, 2008 (EDT)
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Regarding guided hikes, the guess work is one of the things I like about hiking in new areas.

Not knowing what supplies you have, or where you'll be hiking, it's difficult to know what you might be missing.

I agree that the discussions of the "ten essentials" is good starting point.

5:49 p.m. on June 26, 2008 (EDT)
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Hey Rexim, I know what you mean, guides take the challenge and exploration out of it for the most part. I prefer to find my own way also.
I do think it is a safe way for people to develop some basic skills, especially if they are going to an area they are not familiar with in terms of terrain and climate.
Hiking clubs also, but I don't know how many provide gear, the one I used to belong to didn't for the most part.

8:29 p.m. on June 26, 2008 (EDT)
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It's more than the guides taking the guesswork out of the trip. Admittedly, I have had little experience with professional guides, except where required by law (Tanzania) or where the logistics were unknown to me or too complex (Antarctica, some restricted areas in Alaskan National Parks), or going with a couple friends who are professional guides on private trips. On the few I went on, I had mixed experiences, mostly having to do with others assigned to the same trip.

I have observed a large number of guided trips, though, both simple backpacks and more adventurous trips. Too many guides seem to have a strict schedule and seem to me to be far too controlling. Some are pretty good about having their clients learn the skills, but too many take all the decision-making away from the clients. Those make the trip more like the "bus tour", with all spontaneity and and adventure taken out of it.

With the right guides, though, you get the spontaneity and adventure. In Tanzania, Barb and I were on essentially private trips - just the required minimum of hired personnel and us. There we got to have a lot of say in our objectives and pace for the day. We got to take the advantage of "we want photos of a black rhino" and he got us there without a big crowd of other Land Cruisers around, or "we want this set of birds" and we got to sit for a couple hours with the cameras on tripods, clicking literally hundreds of photos. On Kili, while the route and campsites were specified (again by Tanzanian regulations), I went at my own pace, stopping for photos when I wanted to.

In Antarctica, our group were all very experienced climbers (half the group had done the first ascent of the peak, after all). So the guides sent along with us just handled the logistics and made sure we had current information. We made a number of side trips both solo and in pairs or groups during rest days and while waiting for the weather to allow the plane to get in for the return trip.

Some guides are very happy to make use of the clients' skills and experience, and/or to help you build your personal skills. Some guide services are structured as training schools, in fact. They will make sure you have the right gear and know the right procedures.

Unfortunately, others want to control everything (talk to your guide ahead of time, or better, see if you can get a personal recommendation). As I said, these remind me of the "tour bus driver" - lecture at the clients (I intentionally said "lecture AT") - "Now we go here ... shoot 3 photos ... hurry along, we must make the next place in 15 minutes ... now eat your lunch ..."

10:15 p.m. on June 26, 2008 (EDT)
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I have been on four guided trips, 2 backpacking, and 2 fly fishing. I have never been on a highly technical trip.
One of the backpacking trips was less than favorable, partly due to bad weather, and partly because the guide we had was not very engaging in terms of teaching, like Bill S. commented.
Both fly fishing trips were just the guide, myself and a friend. We split the cost, and the guides were very good at communicating and demonstrating technique.
The main reason I would recommend someone using a guide is if they were a beginner, and were headed out to an area they were not familiar with, and/or had less than adequate gear.
Three of my experiences were pleasant, one was not so hot, but I did not get lost or hurt. I did learn a lot since I was just getting into backpacking.

November 26, 2014
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