Hiking Dude Blog
2023 - Apr Jan
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Yeehaa ! ! On the way to the horse trailhead this morning. We met our trail guides last night and dropped off all our gear for the mules to carry up the mountain for us. Now, 9 of us get to play 'city slickers' today and ride nose to butt up the trail for 5 hours to some top secret lakes packed with huge trout. Last time I was on a horse was 2008 at Philmont scout ranch so this should be fun! Plenty of hiking between lakes for the next few days.
Cobbling a bunch of activities together without a specific long trail to hike makes for a very fluid plan.
Today we decided to hike out instead of fishing one more lake which we figured would be pretty much the same as yesterday. So, it's a lot easier hiking downhill for 2 miles and we started driving west once again around 10am.
On the hike out, we crossed paths with a group of day hikers coming in - they were a group from my church so it was a surprise to run into them.
Arriving in Pinedale, we found a hotel and spent the afternoon showering, resting, shopping, and exploring downtown Pinedale. It's a busy small Wyoming townand seems to be doing pretty well, especially compared to all the other struggling towns we've passed through.
Many of the other 'Horse Gang' showed up and we had dinner together. These guys are old friends and acquaintances that get together for some form of fishing vacation every year. This year, it's a horseback ride into the mountains for a few days of camping and fishing.
So, resting up between little adventures. Checking the weather, I expect my plans will change again tomorrow.
Red Squirrels and Canada Jays let us know it was time to start the day. I had about the worst night of sleep I can remember, but gave in to their insistence around 6am.
I'm sharing this rambling adventure with my brother who was having better luck sleeping. So, while he rested, I hiked the 100 yards to Sherd Lake worth my spin pole.
An hour of casting proved fruitless so I went back to camp. We gathered or day packs and hiked up higher to Ringbone Lake. The trails are very heavily used which means rocky and dusty here. But they are ready to follow.
The fish were very active and I caught a couple dozen on dry flies before we climbed over a rocky ledge to Long Lake. It looked very promising but nothing was biting. (I may have the lake names reversed since its hard to tell on my map)
A brief rain, hail, thunder storm passed through for a little excitement. The rain and hail made a cool music on the lake surface. Then, we hiked back down to camp.
With still a few hours of daylight left, I fished up Oliver Creek near our campsite with good success.
I caught brook and cutthroat trout, plus something that had fin coloring of a brookie but large black mottles on the body and a more golden color. Can you identify this fish?
To bed at dark with tomorrow's plans up for grabs. We might fish here or move on.
We made it into the wilderness!
After about 12 hours in the truck, we strapped on our packs and headed uphill at the Circle Park trailhead. With only a handful of vehicles in the parking lot, I think we should have plenty of room to fish. We ran into 3 separate people hiking out so that's even better.
Trail #046 is much like all the other Cloud Peak Wilderness trails - well used and rocky. I've wanted to explore this little corner of the wilderness for years, so I'm excited to see what it offers.
We took our time and came over the last little climb to Sherd Lake just about sun set. A group of guys from New York were fly fishing and one guy was panning for gold - seriously!
I scouted around and found some wonderful camp spots to the north. They are away from water sources, very flat, and off the trail.
With our tents set up as it's getting dark, there's not much else to do but rest for tomorrow's adventure. The weather is perfect, mosquitos are few, and mountains are waiting.
I traveled about 1.8 miles today.
Check out my current location on the map.
(Click for larger image)
I finished my new pack just in time for my first hiking adventure of the year which starts tomorrow! I'll be wandering around the mountains of Wyoming for a couple weeks, doing some hiking and fishing. It certainly isn't like my usual thru-hike or loop with an easy to describe plan, but I'll try...
I'll first drive to the Bighorn Mountains just west of Buffalo, WY with my brother. It should take about 11 hours, but we gain one to timezone change, so we might have time to hike in in the evening. Otherwise, we'll camp with the rifraf and hike in to Sherd Lake bright and early.
The plan is to fish this handful of lakes around 9,000 feet on Thursday and Friday, then hike out on Saturday. We'll only hike a few miles each day and get used to the elevation.
Here's the area map. We'll be on trail #046, and maybe #091.
(Click for larger image)
Saturday requires a long drive to Pinedale, WY west of the Wind River Range. After a night in a hotel, we'll ride into the mountains on horses with a half dozen other guys to the Cook Lakes area. It's around 13 miles on horse, so I'm hoping that isn't worse than hiking in. After fishing the area on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, the outfitter will return and take everyone back out on horses - except me.
In stead of riding out, I'll head south on the Continental Divide Trail for 40 miles then cut east another 10 miles to Dickinson trailhead. I'm counting on three friends to be waiting for me there on Saturday with my food for the next week. On Sunday, we'll hike back into the mountains I just came out of for 5 days of exploring, with some long days and high passes to get over. We'll exit out the Big Sandy trailhead on Friday to a waiting shuttle for a ride around the south end of the mountain range to Lander. Then, back up to Dickinson to pick up the vehicle left there.
All in all, I should get in about 120 miles of hiking, plus 13 miles of horseback, all of it above 9,000 feet and up to 12,000 feet on a couple passes. My fingers are crossed that all the connections work out, the weather remains calm, and no fires start - all of those could mess it up.
Here's my wandering route through the Wind River Range - Click Here
I've been offering a survey for local hikers to complete after doing multi-day hikes in Minnesota. Some folks asked about making it available for other long trails, so . . . .
The Hiker Survey is available! I'll gather stats for each trail toward the end of the year to share with you.
I enjoy making my own backpacking gear. I've sewn a couple packs, a shelter, a hat, and a couple quilts. I've also made a food cozy, water pre-filter, water bottle holders, and many other little things that just make long distance hiking more efficient and light.
My quilt (shown above) has served me well since I made it for my Arizona Trail thru-hike in 2012. I'm usually plenty warm in it, but there have been a few nights over the years when I would have appreciated a bit more loft to keep me warm. Since I'm lazy, I don't want to carry a thicker quilt all the time when it's not needed.
Thanks to Get Out Gear, I now have a 1 pound down puffy blanket that I can take with me only when needed for just that extra oomph of insulation. It's very similar to a down puffy jacket in weight and material, and I'm looking forward to trying it out in the Wyoming mountains this summer where I expect to have some below freezing nights.
You can check out my Blanket Review for details, or use hikingdude10 code to get one yourself, & save 10%, & get free shipping by clicking this:
With most snow from Monday's storm off the trail, I got another morning hike in while testing out my cool KÜHL pants and pull-over. I've had the pull-over for a year and KÜHL sent me a pair of Renegade Cargo zip-off pants to destroy and review. For details of how they're holding up for the first two months, see my KÜHL pants review page. In a nutshell, they're sturdy, comfortable, and working as advertised. I've put on 150 miles and they're doing great.
From a March blizzard to extreme wildfire danger in 5 days - things change fast in March in Minnesota! If you're going for an early spring, or late winter, outing this weekend, please be extra vigilant with any campfire, stove, or other flame you use. Sun, wind, low humidity, and dead vegetation from winter create a prime mix for fire out there. The trails may be muddy, but the woods are dry.
Saturday is officially the first day of Spring, or the Vernal Equinox, which means the good ol' Sun is back in our court for the next six months - thanks for keeping it moving, Australia! The farther from the equator you are the bigger impact this whole summer/winter thing has on your world. When I hiked the Florida Trail in January, daylight was 90 minutes longer there than in Minnesota. But, by the end of June, Minnesota will have 2 hours more daylight than Florida!
Right now, all around the world, we're all just about even with 12 hours of daylight - so enjoy your day, wherever you are.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again - 'March Snow is about as useful as a screen door on a submarine.'
March Snow covers everything with a beautiful blanket of fresh white, covering the mud, trash, and dog poop that has emerged during a few nice, warm, sunny days. We are immediately transported back a couple months to bundling up for a brisk winter hike, enjoying the snow-covered branches, muffled quiet, fresh animal tracks, and easy-to-find deer bedded down under bare trees. We envision more days of skiing, icefishing, and snowshoeing.
But, we all know the truth about March Snow - it is a mirage, an illusion, a trick of nature. It will be gone by the weekend, leaving behind squishy trails and mud puddles, once again exposing the decay and debris of dying winter, and raising our naive hopes for the early arrival of true Spring. And, then, it will happen again, and again, and yet again.
We know better. We've seen it before, many times. Even though we try to forget it, we have recollection of the 26 inches of snow we received in April, only 3 short years ago. We know that, even though southern friends may share pictures of flowers and green forests, we still must wait. As this current blanket of snow retreats, we all know there will be more.
So, even though March Snow is as useful as a glass hammer, wooden frying pan, or chocolate teapot, and we know it will disappear quickly without providing days of winter fun like its November cousin, we still anticipate its forecast. Maybe this snow will be The Big One that we remember for years, or maybe this snow will miss us completely and the crocuses will be blooming soon.
Whatever comes, we can find either enjoyment or misery in the short disruption it brings to the onward push towards summer - just keep your boots and shovel handy for a few more weeks.
The past couple years, I've had a hiking buddy on my big trips but I had no idea he was so popular! I thought he was just another old guy like me that liked to walk.
He didn't talk much but was always prepared for bad weather. Here's some of our favorite hikes from our recent adventures, starting with the one above which is Bernie and Me contemplating life on the Kekekabic Trail.
Summit of Eagle Mountain in Minnesota
On the Pacific Northwest Trail
Climbing Kilimanjaro in Tanzania
On the France/Spain border in the Pyrenees
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Feb 13, 2020 - Jason Berklund
Feb 13, 2020 - Hiking Dude
Getting to the northern terminus is expensive (in my mind). If you can schedule correctly, Arrowhead Transit is cheapest to Grand Marais, but then Harriet Quarles is the only shuttle I know of. You might find a good ol' boy in Grand Marais willing to drive you the 35 miles to the end for a few $$$.
It's a 3 hour drive from Duluth - that's 6 hours and 300 miles round-trip. Maybe your friend would like to drive up the north shore for a day.
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