Trip planning is an equisite art. The mechanical side has, and continues to be, revolutionized by technology. Six years ago M and I lived in Moab, and quickly stockpiled USGS quads because they were the only source for detailed topographic information about most of Utahs backcountry canyons.
That is no longer the case.
Travis from BPL turned me on to Wikimapia less than an hour ago, more than enough time for to appreciate the finely presented satellite images and the clean, intuitive features. The level of detail on Google Terrain will still have the prudent reaching for paper (or another resource) in some situations, though many of those situations (I’m thinking SoUt slots) also push up against the boundaries of what paper can hope to articulate, 20 ft counter intervals or not.
And that is in the end why maps and trip planning are both such fun, because eventually you’ll stumble across an idea which, once opened up on a map, promises to show so much more once you’re actually out in its folds. I’ve been looking at the big paper map of Glacier on our wall for weeks, trying to sort out an idea as good as the last one (that being the Two Medicine-Lake McDonald trip). I finally found one.
In summer this would be an interesting route with major flaws, chiefly the amount of road walking and the near mile long packraft crossing of a lake full of powerboats. But now, with the Hungry Horse reservoir roads gated, Jewel Basin’s trails covered in snow, and ice lapping at the shores, things change quite a bit. I am concerned about avalanche terrain on this route, especially going over the first pass. I may well put this project off for at least a weekend, to get out a bit more and gain more data points about the snowpack. On the other hand, temps are moderate this weekend, and wind looks to be low. And adventure calls.
More interesting off-season trips:
A ski-canyoneering adventure in Cedar Breaks. How many raps in Ashdown, Phillip?
Perhaps the ultimate shuttle trip: the complete Deep Creek and the Narrows trip. In winter, of course. Skis, drysuit, crampons, 3 days. No rope work on this one, but best bring a bit anyway. Winter does odd things to canyons. How could you go wrong?