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What is your route planning like?

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Re: What is your route planning like?

Postby balzaccom » Sun Feb 19, 2012 10:23 pm

WE start with a basic number of days that we can spend...and a general route of where we want to go.

And then we improvise, based on conditions, attitude, etc.

But that doesn't mean I don't spend hours researching the possibilities. I love to know about the options we have, and that helps us make better decisions out on the trail.

That said, I can't remember a single trip that went exactly the way we "planned" it.
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Re: What is your route planning like?

Postby calipidder » Mon Feb 20, 2012 3:04 pm

Half of the fun for me is in the planning. Sitting down on a cold January night with a beer, TOPO, Secor, paper maps, and Google is one of my favorite things to do. I'll eventually nail down a trip and then dig into the details - routes, campsites, googling pics of sketchy passes or routes up peaks, alternates, fishing opportunities, exploration opportunities, partners, permits, packing lists, etc. I've virtually hiked and climbed every step of the trip before the snow has melted and I've packed up my backpack. Some people hate that kind of stuff, but I love it; it gets me in that Sierra state of mind in the off season.

That said, once I'm on the trail I'm flexible. I think that one advantage of the detailed planning is that it's easy to make changes if I know what's out there. It reduces stress when things *don't* go according to plan. Last year we got turned around at Cartridge Pass due to the heavy snow and had to bail on Lakes Basin. No problem - circled back up to Upper Basin and climbed Split. No second thoughts - I knew the distances and time it would take us to get there and do the stuff we wanted to do, and it mapped perfectly to the time we had set aside for Lakes Basin.
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Re: What is your route planning like?

Postby SweetSierra » Wed Feb 22, 2012 7:17 am

I'm not a planner, either. I like leaving things open-ended. On my solo trips, I look at the distance ahead of time but not elevation gain (usually) or loss. That's about it. I'd like to make it to where I want to go and so far, that hasn't been a problem. I like to stay at a lake if I like it or move on if I don't. I'm not even that particular about a camp site, though I like to choose a spot that has a good feel to it. Even if I have reservations, once I set up the tent, I'm in love with the spot anyway. :nod:
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Re: What is your route planning like?

Postby mschnaidt » Wed Feb 22, 2012 9:21 am

I'm a planner. Not to the level of many here however. And while many do their planning with a fine beer in hand, a good red wine is my bev of choice.

I like to have a "Plan A" itinerary. Anywhere from 3 -12 miles per day with"Plan B" options. These are based upon conditions, fishing, fun opportunities or challenges and the health/conditioning of my group. It's all about everyone in the group enjoying themselves and having the option to fish, hike, climb or to just relax in a hammock with a book after the daily miles are done.

I use Topo, Google Earth and trip reports (thanks to everyone here!). I make sure the group has hard copy topos (more than one) and have all the maps and aerial images of the area loaded onto my smartphone.

A couple of weeks before the trip I like to send out a document to my friends with maps, itinerary with photos and dates, and who to contact if we are not home on time.
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Re: What is your route planning like?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Wed Feb 22, 2012 9:41 am

Good point about involving participants in the planning process. My husband is an "anti-planner" and I have to drag him over to a map to discuss a route! We now have a rule- no participation in planning, no complaining allowed! He actually likes well planned trips, but does not like to do the planning himself. I have to talk to him in terms of hours traveled, not miles or elevation gain or his eyes glaze over. I know what he does not like, so if we have to do a mile or so over his least favorite terrain, I have to get him to buy into it. Years ago I did a 20-day trip with my then 17-year old daughter. She is a great backpacker but has one very laid-back pace. There was no way she was going to go faster! So I really had to take that into consideration. I think planning is really important when taking young children out. You had better be sure they can make it to the destination without tons of tears! I actually think you owe it to others to make it very clear what they are getting into, and it has to be specific. Good old buddies who have gone together for years can get by with more improvisation. If you are a "seat of pants" backpacker be sure those going with you buy into that method.
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Re: What is your route planning like?

Postby Jimr » Fri Feb 24, 2012 10:40 am

I second WD's consideration regarding hiking buddies. It's very important as a planner and leader to keep in consideration the limitations (mentally and physically) of each participant, especially the least experienced/fit in the group. My planning used to by very meticulous with lots of unknowns. Those were the trans-sierra days. These days, I have to also consider the amount of time I leave my wife with two unruly young teens. My trips have gone from 12 days to 4 or 5 days. In the late '90's my backpacking came to an abrupt halt due to starting a family. When I got back into it about 4 years ago, I was amazed at how different route planning has become with the internet. It's almost information overload (almost). I've gone from sitting in a beer joint with a burger and a pitcher, pouring over every detail and line of a 15' map to using it as a time waster at work pouring over Google Earth, Gmap4, GPS software (I don't know why since I don't bring my GPS with me. I use it for route planning and a learning experience with different technology), this forum and google searches for others experiences. The planning portion has always been fun for me, it's just very different these days.

I used to be a divemaster for a couple of scuba clubs, so I'm very considerate of the weakest link in the group and always seek to keep anything I'm planning relative to that link. My trips with the wife and kids are far different than the trips with my buddy of the last three years who is my Hapkido instructor in his mid 30's with five black belts and an adventurous spirit, especially for the SN. He is content to let me do all of the logistics and feeds his curiosity as I update him on my plans. My wife, although she trusts my planning and instincts, doesn't trust I can temper my ambition when it comes to the kids and their limitations. I guess that's a mother for ya! (o.k. she knows me pretty well after 23 years). She does not want to be inundated with details, but wants her concerns attended to with respect to time, mileage and elevation changes. She doesn't want me to kill the kids, I guess.

Obviously, the focus is very different for these trips. I now have two types of trips instead of one, each with unique attributes to plan around. Neither of them look like the trips I used to plan and still have rolling around in my head, so I guess I have three types. When the kids move out, I plan to re-establish some of my original trips. The first one will be a trans-sierra from Mineral King to Kern, up the Kern to Whitney and out the portal. 12 day allotment, but probably 8 or 9 days actual.
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