View Full Version : Where to go for an extenxed, solo winter-season trip?

Gary from Yonkers
10-12-2012, 01:48
Sometimes life can throw at you curve balls that you never, ever saw coming. Unfortunately, last week, life saw fit to throw me several of them. But that's not the point of my post. This is: I have decided that the best thing I can do for my sanity is to take a little vacation from my life, and "disappear" into the backcountry for a bit. At least a month. Maybe two. I've done many long trips, and I've done lots of solo trips, but never a long solo trip. And certainly never in the winter. So, while I usually have a hard time picking from a long list of places I'd like to go, I'm having difficulty this time around. Suggestions? Guide books and web searches are fine, but it's also nice to hear from "real" people sometimes.

I can (theoretically) go anywhere in the continental US, but I am looking to avoid particularly cold temperatures, and extended stays in snow, so this means I'll be staying towards the southern latitudes. Other than that...so long as I don't have to see many other people, I'm game to go anywhere.

Secondly, while I do have real live winter-weather hammocking gear, it's pretty heavy, so I'm a little hesitant to use it on a trip where I could potentially be on the move a lot. I have a fantastic , and very lightweight two-person mountaineering tent... I don't know. Anybody ever carried their winter hammock gear on a long-distance?



PS: Thank you for your concern, but I do not need any cautions and warnings and safety reminders; while bad things can happen to anybody, I have reached a level of experience where I am able to anticipate and prepare for any reasonably-foreseeable emergency. Thank you.

10-12-2012, 05:41
I feel ya, dog!

No doubt, there will be a flood of cautions coming your way, so do your research and be safe. If I were planning an extended winter trip, I would be tempted to hike the A.T. from Georgia on up starting in November/December. You'll get plenty of colitude, cold temps, some snow, and be able to hit town periodically to resupply.

I can't speak about deep winter gear (yet!) but I'm researching and experimenting with a 4 lb kit that I hope will get me down to 20*. There are people out there with much more experience that may pipe in.

10-12-2012, 05:53
Head south, like south MS, south AL, North FL. You may have a few cold days, but it will most likely be 80 on Christmas Day.

10-12-2012, 06:25
GFY: Sorry for your pain, brother. +1 on hiking the AT. But, if it were me, I'd start in TN, VA or NC and hike south. Shorter drive for you and--as the winter deepens--the climate will moderate. Go as far as you want, then turn around and head back to your car. As was mentioned, the AT is great for a solo hiker because of the easy re-supply points. Plus, you certainly wouldn't lack for guide books about the trip. Best of luck to you and keep in touch. :D

bear bag hanger
10-12-2012, 07:08
If you want to avoid the cold, the Florida National Scenic Trail would seem like a good place to go. The southern terminus is in the Everglades, but a lot of people start down in Key West, but that involves a lot of road walk. Depending on how fast you hike, if you're not done by the time you get to the panhandle, you can take the Alabama turn off and hike the Alabama Trail, the Pinhoti Trail, then the Benton MacKaye Trail and then on to the AT.

10-12-2012, 07:19
The OHT 'Ozark Highland Trail' at 165 miles long is a good choice in Arkansas. You won't see alot of people. There is some snow, but doesn't last long. Tim Ernst book is the one to have if backpacking this trail. Its a very peaceful hike.

BlackWolf Thru hiked it last year.
good luck

10-12-2012, 07:22
Come on down to GA or AL! Great weather, friendly people, and excellent bbq! (how can you go wrong!) You've got the Pinhoti trail, the Florida trail, the AT etc etc---------hundreds of miles of trails to choose from. Our winters are kind of like a very long late fall or early spring in the North--------great for camping!:) http://pinhotitrailalliance.org/

10-12-2012, 07:47

Come to Texas.

What I'm getting is that you're looking for a place for a more or less permanent camp---an extended stealth camping trip.

Palo Duro Canyon

Big Bend

LBJ Grasslands

Sam Houston NF

Davy Crocket NF

Each of them offers something different. For trackless back country, Big Bend is it. The Grasslands offers rolling hills and post oak forests. Sam Houston and Davy Crocket offers deep piney woods. Palo Duro offers isolation and natural beauty.

10-12-2012, 08:13
NW Arkansas has some incredible trails, and it's the time of year for stomping around. Look into the Ozark Highlands Trail. 186 miles. Great hike. If you make it down and need a couch to crash on, I'll leave a light on for ya. There is also the Buffalo National River and several more miles of trails in and around the Buffalo National Forest. It's amazing. Trees, rock formations, ample water, great weather, and the bugs are mostly gone. ahhhh.

10-12-2012, 08:25
Florida Trail.

Start at the northern terminus and walk south. You'll have some cool temps until you make the right turn to head south, but it won't be anything too bad. It's a nice trail and resupply is generally a breeze.

Watch out for the spiders! They set traps for hikers. :scared:

10-12-2012, 08:27
Your welcome to come our way and stay as long as you like.theres not any snow, a little cool now and again and some rain,but for the most part, nice. there is a HF group hang in Nov. at Big Southfork just a little ways north(about an hr) if you need to be shuttled i can help you with that, if you need a place to park your ride where it will be safe i have that here to.best of luck on your journey, if we can help please dont be affraid to ask!

10-12-2012, 08:30
Florida Trail.

Start at the northern terminus and walk south. You'll have some cool temps until you make the right turn to head south, but it won't be anything too bad. It's a nice trail and resupply is generally a breeze.

Watch out for the spiders! They set traps for hikers. :scared:

I 2nd the Florida Trail. We use to go down there in Feb for some weekend trips. The temps could be in the 60's and all of us would be in shorts. The locals had there down jackets on :laugh:

Plus the Rainbow folks are down there...interesting...lol

10-12-2012, 08:56
I feel your urge brother. A couple of months to run away enters my mind every day.
I'd add the Arizona Trail (http://www.aztrail.org/thru-hikers.html) for consideration. You'd be more likely to get the solitude you're yearning there than in Florida.

10-12-2012, 10:13
I feel your urge brother. A couple of months to run away enters my mind every day.
I'd add the Arizona Trail (http://www.aztrail.org/thru-hikers.html) for consideration. You'd be more likely to get the solitude you're yearning there than in Florida.

Most places that I'd know about for some real solitude would tend to be way cold in the winter. So those are pretty much out. I was thinking about AZ also, but in the MTNs there it is still going to often be 20F and occasionally minus 20 or even colder. ( my personal low at Flagstaff: minus 23, with reports of minus 30 - 40 in some remote areas that morning ) But if you could keep the elevation reasonable, it might not be too bad. Many miles of this trail would probably be at OK elevations, probably plenty to keep OP busy. Some places might be really cold. But not near as bad as some of the places I would recommend if it was summer. Remoteness and solitude should be way up there.

That Texas rec from sargevining has some real possibilities. Plenty of solitude at Big Bend! Temps should be OK.

It seems like the best bet is the AT as some have suggested. At least if a severe cold snap occurred it would not be too hard to escape to a nearby town.

But those FL/AL/GA recs seem the best bet for having temps that won't stress you.

11-12-2012, 20:53
The Ouachita national trail. It's 192 miles goes from Oklahoma to Littlerock ar they have shelters on the Littlerock side. Haven't hiked it yet but grinds have hiked parts. Tim Ernst has a book on it. The winters are not bad

kayak karl
11-12-2012, 21:02
this might help. many are hammockers.

11-13-2012, 11:16
My favorite places, Gary, are in New Mexico, where you can find the Gila Wilderness in the South, and the Santa Fe Wilderness, North of Pecos, in the North Central part. Both have perpetual water sources. Then there are the Guadalupe Mountains and Big Bend National Parks in Texas, where water is a challenge.

I've not winter camped much at all so cannot help with the other part of your dilemma except to say that West Texas and New Mexico are warmed by the Chihuahua Desert.


11-13-2012, 13:38
Yet another vote for the Florida Trail. Cannibal's right about the banana spiders (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_silk_orb-weaver), but they should be at about the end of their life cycle most places right now (they're not really dangerously venomous to humans; they're just ugly, huge, and annoying when they bite). By next month or January, the majority of 'em will have died off until March or so.

Most folks finish the FT in three or four months, but if you're a fast hiker, you could probably do it in two to two and an half (20-30 mile days). Most of FL is flat, but don't let that fool you. There're enough poor blazes in places down here to slow you down to map and compass time, the vegetation is no joke (saw palmetto sucks), sugar sand'll tire you down faster than rock hopping, swamps can be less than fun, and you have to be careful about your water planning. Still, it's a fun time. Challenging, but fun. Expect temperatures ranging from ~20* F at the lowest to ~80* F at the highest this time of year, depending on where you are on the trail and what the weather's doing (if you don't like it, sit down and have a beer: by the time you're done...).

Here's (http://www.floridatrail.org/) the official FTA website.
Here's (http://www.lilricky.com/FT/) our very own lilricky's unofficial GPS data page for the trail.
Here's (http://www.floridahikes.com/) a website with many individual experiences about the trail.

I've, personally, done the Ocala South portion of the trail. If you want/need advice about that section (~45 miles), feel free to PM me.

Hope it helps!

11-13-2012, 13:46
Everyone has great points but the AT tends to be on most hikers bucket list but that's coming from a Tennesseean it in my back yard. Good luck be safe and if the AT is off the list Florida sounds great