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Buck30 - Other Trail Journal - 2022

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Brian (Buck-30)
Begins: May 9, 2022
Direction: Northbound

Daily Summary
Date: Thu, Jul 14th, 2022
Start: Lake Valley Summit
End: Lake Valley Summit
Daily Distance: 0
Trip Distance: 1,017.5

Journal Stats
Entry Visits: 600
Journal Visits: 8,926
Guestbook Views: 519
Guestbook Entrys: 8

Great Basin Trail - Planning and Overall Summary



hope for these notes to be helpful and provide an honest account of what

the GBT is like but you need to do your own further research and make your

own decisions. I'm probably not like you. You may not like what I like.


The GBT is so epic. If you have the skills to hike this trail you gotta

hike this trail. The GBT is also brutal. If you read this journal you've

probably heard me say this about 1000 times. It was by far the hardest

trail I've ever thru-hiked and it was my 34th trail. It is at the top of my

list of hikes for adventure, scenery and just downright amazing insanity.

It's also at the top of my list for a hike where you do it just to see if

you can. I mean, there are a ton of amazing things about the GBT and

reasons I hiked it. But more than most trails, I knew how hard it would be

and really wanted to see if I could just do it.


If you've hiked a more difficult trail I'd like to know what it is! The GBT

is simply brutal. There's no other way to say it. No reason to beat around

the bush. It's amazing, but you better be ready for it. Primarily it's the

XC miles in the Ranges. I've walked 2 other routes across Nevada. The Hot

Springs Trail and The Desert Trail. I knew the GBT would be way harder than

both of these which is saying a lot. Primarily because of the Range XC. The

HST occasionally follows ranges, more typical it crosses over them. The

Desert Trail follows more ranges, but it's limited. The GBT was primarily

designed to climb into a Range and follow it for miles. I can't begin to

explain how difficult this can be. But there is a savior at times. Jeep

roads in Ranges. Before the trip to get a handle on the Ranges I calculated

there were about 660 miles in the Ranges out of a total of about 1,000

miles. That's 65% and just a massive percentage. But once I was out here I

quickly realized that what I the really needed to know was how many of

these miles were XC and how many were jeep roads. That was the key. So

before every section I would scroll through my maps and make a little list.

It was the only way I could survive out here. It was super helpful to plan

a day knowing how much XC, how much jeep roads, how much elevation and

where the water was. I didn't save those calcs so I don't really know how

many Range XC miles there are. I'd say it's about 50-50 between XC and jeep

roads (maybe 60-40 in favor of jeep roads actually). For me those XC miles

were where the brutality came in. I won't even try to describe it. It

varied, but it was usually pretty rough. Basically early on I wanted to

throw up at the top of every XC climb.

Other things that make the GBT hard: Long stretches between towns. At my

pace, I was doing solid 10 day stretches (with food caches along the way).

Long water carries at times. Crazy steep XC climbing. Hot sun and zero

shade for endless valley miles. Wind. Wind like you've never felt wind

before. Lastly, fickle weather. (see weather discussion for more on that).

Another way to think about the difficult is that I was the first person

other than Dirt to connect my steps around the loop. Prior to me 4 very

capable hikers started the GBT and quit at various points along the way. I

should caveat this by saying that in 2021 a hiker did basically complete

the GBT, it's just that several times he skipped dirt road miles by taking

rides offered and it totalled probably like 50 miles or something (I

believe this to be the case). I just can't acknowledge that as a first

completion of a trail, I refuse! But he was very strong and probably

*could* have hiked those miles. Also Salty hiked with Dirtmonger and joined

during the hike and completed like 700 of 1000 miles, this was her plan and

she did it at a blistering pace with Dirt, so a successful section hike.

But overall it's not a very high success rate. Usually with harder trails

you get very experienced hikers and the finish rate is pretty high. The

hikers who didn't make it were experienced, the GBT is just that hard.

*How Long?*

You'll see me reference about 1000 miles or 1,013 to be exact. When I

imported the GPS track into Caltopo and added miles markers, I got 1,013

miles. Dirt references in his materials about 1100-1150 which makes sense

based on known XC straight line under mapping and just all the weaving

you'll doing walking XC. But for planning purposes I had to use my mile

markers so that's what I'll be referencing throughout. Just add 5-10% if

you want to know how far you'll actually be hiking.

*Section Summary*

You can roughly split the route in thirds. The first third is about 350

miles from Lake Valley Summit to Carvers (Before the Toiyabe Range). This

section is moderately hard. It felt brutal to me as I had just started and

due to being sick for a month before starting, I was out of shape. It's a

mixture of low, but challenging Ranges and low valley walking. This is the

lowest section and therefore possibly the hottest if you are unlucky. This

also has the smallest towns (Pioche, Alamo, Carvers).

The 2nd third is Carvers to Wells. This is about the next 400 miles. This

is the relentlessly brutal section. It's mostly Ranges, way less valley

walking where the easier miles are. If this section doesn't kill you,

nothing will.

The final third is somewhere in between the first 2. From Wells back to

Lake Valley Summit. You've got a solid amount of easier valley miles, but

also some very difficult ranges/peaks such as the Schell's, Moriah and

Wheeler Peak. But the tread is generally a bit better in these Ranges than

previous sections. On the flip side there is some serious elevation gain

and long XC stretches so it's tough (14 miles along the Schell crest and 6

miles down Wheeler in particular were very hard).


I talked about the XC a fair bit above. There's a also a lot of jeep road.

But this is like jeep road that no one ever drives or mostly couldn't drive

even if they wanted to. I was actually really surprised by how few vehicles

I saw. Barely any, there were a few times where I had long and hot water

carries across valleys and was hoping a vehicle would come with bonus water

and they never did! There's also a lot of XC miles across valleys. These

are way easier than XC in Ranges. They will slow you down, you'll be

weaving amongst the sage, but you'll still be moving decently. Occasionally

it can be sandy in the valley, that tired me out at times.

I'd like to describe the XC in Ranges but there is so much variety I can't

find the words. You'll just have to experience it yourself. I'll say this.

When you hear hiking podcasts or Instagram and hikers talk about

"bushwhacking", they don't have a fucking clue. The GBT has bushwhacking!

The CDT and PNT do not really have bushwhacking. Trust me. Or when they

talk about XC. The CDT seriously has no XC and the PNT has one 6 mile

section that is trailless. Again, they don't have a fucking clue. The GBT

literally has hundreds and hundreds of real trailless miles.


Water is shockingly good for a trail like the GBT where you'd expect to die

of thirst. Nevada is actually really good for water when you know where it

is and have a couple years of past reports like Dirt has done for the GBT.

With my current hike, this now means there are 3 straight years of water

reports for a Spring hike. 99% of the natural sources should have water for

your hike if they had water for the past 3 reporting years. It's a bit

tougher to rely on cattle troughs which change year to year depending on

where the cows are as Dirt talks about.

Anyway, there are definitely some solid water carries. Especially if you

can't rely on cattle troughs. But nothing crazy. Early on around Oak

Springs Summit, there is a solid 35 mile carry before and after your Oak

Springs water cache (with the potential for trough water along the way).

The big one is leaving Wells there is a 44-52 mile carry depending on where

you cache water. But the miles are mostly in the valley and it's totally

doable over 2 days.

There are plenty of 20+ mile carries, some 30s, but again, for a trail like

the GBT I think it's pretty reasonable. For me the hardest carries were say

a 20 mile carry in a Range. Those miles would be slow for me and hard and

I'd burn a lot of water and be really thirsty.

I'd say the water quality was pretty good, again all things considered.

Meaning you will be dealing with cows and horses which can really fuck up a

water source. Or troughs with crazy algae. But that's just what a desert

hike is like. If you can't deal with bad water you shouldn't be out here.

*Number of Days*

My hike was 65 days. Dirt's was about 45. That's a HUGE difference. Keep in

mind he's a physical beast. I am not. And it's not a race. Similar to the 1

or 2 people who finished other super hard trails before me, they were crazy

fast and I was just average. I think somewhere in between our hikes is a

reasonable estimate and for the GBT probably leaning closer to my days. I

may not be a physical beast but I do have a ton of desert experience, love

thru hiking and frankly am just good at this. So you might be a lot faster

than me, but you also might be slowed down by a lot of other issues. I'd

plan 2 months as a safe bet.

I felt like I cracked the GBT code. Especially when I started and was so

out of shape, but really the entire way, I just went slow. Brutally hard

day? I did a 14. Easier day? Did a 20. But I did a lot of days in the 15-17

range. I swear it made a huge difference in my attitude and success. I'd be

moving 1 mph on some brutal XC climb, but I was like, well I only have to

do a 14 today. I got this. It took all the pressure and stress off from

some really tough hiking. I also spent like 2 days in every town. Literally

every town I hit, I only walked a handful of miles in and then zeroed the

next day. So 2 nights in every town (there aren't that many, see resupply

below) and basically almost 2 full days off from hiking. This was a big

chunk of my 65 days. Like 13 days in town out of 65. That's more than

normal for me, but it just felt nice to rest and enjoy.


My main advice is to go to every town possible. This was one of my best

decisions. You might be sitting at home thinking, oh I don't need to go to

Alamo or Carvers or Lamoille. Go. Trust me. After 10 days of tough hiking

you will want a town. The towns on the GBT are a mix of extremely small to

decent size. The first half has all the tiny towns: Pioche, Alamo, Carvers,

Lamoille. The 2nd half has the bigger towns: Eureka, Wells, Ely. Check the

previous entry for my town summary, there are some good tips in there and

expands on Dirtmonger's excel resupply sheet. Motels were surprisingly

reasonable, like $ 65-$ 80. Usually towards the lower end.

You'll have to hitch into Carvers and Ely. The Alamo motel owner will

probably come pick you up if you are nice. The rest of the towns you walk

through which is nice.

You'll also want/need to do food/water caches. See next section.


You'll want to do food and water caches as suggested by Dirtmonger. The

food caches were a huge key to my success. There are a few stretches that

are basically too long to do without a food cache but there are a lot of

other places where it was just easy to do an extra food cache and make the

food carry short, like 50 miles. This made carrying water easier and just

made the really hard hiking a lot easier. Not easy, but it would have been

even harder with 130 miles of food instead of an 80 and a 50.

Here is a list of what I did. I added 2 caches to Dirt's list and didn't do

I think only 1 (Independence Valley on the 50 mile water carry, I don't

believe a standard car/SUV can get there but am not positive). All of these

were food caches except 3 noted as water caches only. Also, with the food

cache I always cached water too, even if it wasn't really needed. Just

wanted some water with my long cache break.

Lake Valley Summit - Start!

Pioche - town

1) Oak Springs Summit - This was a water only cache. Paved.

Alamo - town

2) Railroad Valley - This is the main one I added. It breaks up a 130 mile

carry from Alamo and was worth it. It's a good dirt road out there.


3) Blue Jay rest area, Hwy 6. Paved.

Carvers - town

4) Hwy 376, Big Smokey Valley, paved (this is the Hwy 376 cache after the


5) Antelope Valley road - Long dirt road, well graded for passenger cars


Eureka - town

6) Harrison Pass - Paved all the way till the last mile. Car could make the

last mile no problem.

Lamoille/Elko - town

Wells - town

7) Wells cache: (41.001369,-114.941359) - This was another I added. This

was a water only cache and only 8 miles from Wells but it was part of the

50 mile water carry so I thought worth it. Note, you have to park on Hwy 93

and walk 1 mile on jeep road to trail.

8) Goshute valley cache: Water only and for security at the end of the 50

mile carry. I feel like Boone Spring is reliable in Spring and this cache

was not needed. Decent dirt road out there. Could probably do a car, but

was happier to have a small SUV.

9) Highway 93 cache. Paved.

10) Hwy 6/50/Baker cache. Paved although I drove a half mile down the dirt

road as there is farm stuff near the highway.

Want some awesome tips on how to cache food and water? Read this from my

2019 Desert Trail hike:

*Maps / GPS / Navigation*

Dirtmonger provides a PDF mapset and GPX file that has about 1000 waypoints

and a GPS track. Big-time note here, the GPS TRACK IS NOT ACCURATE. It's

not meant to be. It's a great resource but it was hand drawn on Caltopo by

Dirt at home. He did not record that GPS track in the field. This is a good

thing. You should not record it either. This trail should be left

adventurous and not have a perfectly accurate GPS track so any idiot can

walk the route and die. In fact, I believe Dirt requires that you agree

that you will not record and release a GPS track to the public.

The 1000 waypoints are accurate, those were recorded on his hikes. They are

incredibly useful. Especially the game trail/horse trail ones. It can be

tough sometimes finding or keeping to these helpful paths. I lost them a

lot and would look ahead and try and hit the next game/horse trail waypoint

if there was one to pick it back up. Dirt is a master at finding and

following horse and game trails. I feel like I'm pretty good at it, but

clearly not as good as he is!

The GPS track is reasonably accurate but you'll still have plenty of

navigation decisions constantly all day long. Like going up drainages the

track didn't really seem to be drawn where you'd want to walk. You'll have

to decide which side is best, where to bushwhack, etc. Same for all the XC,

it's a general line in the direction Dirt wants to lead you. It's not

perfect, you'll have to read the terrain and pick the best route which is

generally on or near the line. Even on roads it's not accurate often, but

that doesn't really matter. You'll know you are on the right path. Usually

on a crest walk I could tell he tried to draw the line say around a peak if

he found a good way to contour around and not go over.

If you don't know how to read a map you will definitely die out here. I'm

pretty serious. This is not a trail where you can expect to just stare at

your phone and blindly follow a line on your GPS app. You've got to know

how to read a map and navigate. I had to make a million little decisions

all day. This was awesome and all part of the adventure. You can use your

GPS all day, you must still need to know how to read the topo map on it.

I'd also suggest downloading a satellite view layer to your app (I use

Backcountry Navigator) as well as a land use layer. Occasionally the

satellite view can be helpful if you are looking for a path or trail. I

used it more to scope out junipers for possible breaks on long hot

crossings or the first set of junipers to camp after a long shadeless day.

The land use layer is helpful if you need to bail due to snow or

lightening. Or if you just want to plan an alternate.

*Seasons / Weather*

Mostly this is best left to Dirt's blog and discussion on weather, starting

point and direction of travel. I'll mention a few thoughts. Nevada, and

this route in particular is the perfect example of there being no perfect

time to hike the GBT. There's no way to not be too hot, too cold or too

snowy. For a spring hike I think the consensus is to start at Lake Valley

Summit. Dirt's writeup gives a range starting in like March and suggests

closer to May. Honestly, I wouldn't consider starting before May 1. Dirt

started May 1 in 2020 and 2021, hiked fast and both times was hit with a

big spring snowstorm and had to bail to Carvers. He also had temps in the

teens some nights and when that wind is whipping and your high is in the

40s, it's cold. Kevin started May 1, I started a week later on May 9.

Personally I'd rather be too hot than too cold. It was pretty interesting

to see Kevin and me just a week apart for 6 weeks and have pretty different

weather. I was pretty hot in the southern low sections while he was getting

cold rain/sleet/snow around the southwest side in the mountains. You can't

really win. I think May 1 is a fine start time if you are averaged pace. My

start date of May 9 I also thought was good if you are willing to endure

more heat, but then I rarely had cold weather and more snow had melted out.

In a normal snow year the big ranges can have snow well into your hike and

the Ruby's are like a mini Sierra and can hold a lot of snow into July. I

think if you try to start in April you will most likely be very cold, get

hit with multiple spring storms and then have too much snow in certain

ranges including the Ruby's.

As for a Fall hike I'm less of an expert but Darkness and DaBear started I

think around August 1 which I think is too early. It's still quite hot. Of

course, starting later and you'll probably be too cold when you finish. I

don't know as much. It seemed their water sources were decent but

definitely not as solid as in the spring. The route is hard enough,

personally I'd want to do it when I can at least rely on the water for sure

in the Spring.


There's nothing exactly more dangerous out here than a normal hard trail.

But probably just a notch higher of shit that can happen. It would be so

easy to break and ankle or leg out here with all the tough XC. No one will

ever find you, that's for sure. Unless you crawl out yourself or have an

Inreach. Be careful of lightening. There are plenty of rattlesnakes

although I only saw 1, unfortunately it was when I was cowboy camped under

a rock overhang and I came face to face with it, literally 18" from my

face, fuck!

You should have a backup navigation. If your primary is your phone then you

should have paper maps too. Or a secondary GPS device which I personally

find more useful. What's better, a paper map with a 5 mile range or a 2nd

GPS device with basically a 50 mile range? This year Heather and I bought

fancy Garmin watches that have topo maps on them and I could load the GBT

tracks and waypoints. It was amazing I almost hate to admit. I actually

used it all day. I could just flick my wrist and check how I was doing on

XC or the next road turn. I used my phone GPS plenty too for the bigger

picture but I was surprised how great the watch was.

Otherwise I can't think of anything else. Of course if you don't know how

to read a map or how to manage long water carries on a 100 degree day then

yeah, you will probably die.


If you are out here then you know your gear so I won't say much. There's no

way I could have hiked this trail without pants unless you want your legs

permanently scarred and in pain.

My gaitors were also key. Dirty Girls will be shredded, I'd highly

recommend the Levi gaitors from Blisterfree. These are very light but much

more rugged. I still managed to get a small hole in each one, Blisterfree

said I was the first person to ever put a hole in his gaitors. That's

basically the GBT in a nut shell right there.

An inflatable pad is fine. There are actually almost no cactus on the GBT.

It's few and far between.

Silver umbrella is almost mandatory unless you like taking breaks in the

direct 100 degree sun. I went like 38 miles or something one section

without shade. I'm not exaggerating, there wasn't anything higher than my

thigh for 38 miles and it was very hot.

Dress warmer than you think, it can be surprisingly cold up high early on.

A May Nevada snowstorm is not a joke. Sure it will melt off soon, but when

you are in it you'll be cold and scared.

Here's the big one, the GBT will FUCK UP all your gear. I couldn't believe

the pounding my gear took. My Goseemer Gear Mariposa is prett

y rugged and took a beating. Your tent zippers will be full of sand. Your shirts and

pants will be torn up from pushing through juniper, pinyon an the most evil

tree of all, mountain mohagony. Also, keep your shit attached to your pack.

You'll be surprised how a juniper will pull out your umbrella as you weave

through them for miles. I had one rip open my pants pocket and my wireless

fell out unbeknownst to me. Plan to replace your shoes more than
normal. I assume your Altras will be destroyed in a week.


Depending on your speed and the towns you choose to visit you might have
solid 10+ day stretches between towns like I did. I use my phone basically
for everything these days. I carry a 20k power brick, but to make it 10+
days with that is really have to conserve and primarily use my phone for
navigation/maps. I wouldn't be able to podcast much, use the internet when
I got reception or even write this journal much. I carried a 2.5 ounce, 1
panel solar panel. Heather found it in the Reddit UL group. It's really
slow/poor unless you are say on a trail with basically 100% sun and total
exposure all day! It worked perfect for the GBT. On the long stretches
there would just be 1 or 2 days where on long valley crossings I'd just put
the panel up on my pack and let it charge my power brick during the core of
the day, like 6 hours. At best it does 10% of my phone per hour so really
slow and the sun needs to be up high, etc. But those 1 or 2 days was all
the bump in extra power I needed to make it comfortably. I wouldn't carry
this panel on any other trail but it was perfect for out here.


The wildlife highlight of the trail for me were the wild horses. They are
very controversial in Nevada. The ranchers want to kill them all so more
cattle can graze. Even environmentalists want to kill them to restore
native vegetation. But they are just so majestic galloping across the route
it's hard for me not to love them. They aren't everywhere but certain
ranges just have tons of them. They also make amazing hiking trails and are
used a lot on the GBT. You will be extremely thankful for them.

I also saw a lot of antelope and deer. Some elk in certain spots. I didn't
see any Bighorn sheep but it's not unusual to see them around Mt.
Jefferson, the Quinn's and Ruby's. Lots of hawks and some vultures. Only 1
rattlesnake which was a bit odd/low, bunch of non rattlers though. I didn't
see much else.


I had no bugs almost the entire trip. The Diamonds have mosquitoes and
flies but that's only 30 miles. I had a few bugs in the Snake Range for a
couple hours. That's it. I never used Deet or anything.

*Cell Service*
I was shocked with how much cell reception I had. I think I went maybe 3
days a few times without reception. Otherwise I'd say that half the time I
had reception at least once a day and half the time every 2 days. That
seemed like a lot for such a remote trail. But you climb up high a lot and
the Ranges are narrow so you are likely to have a clear view of an unseen
cell tower a fair bit.

None! Literally none.

*Start / Finish*
Well it's a loop so these are the same for once! Ideally you will drive out
to the GBT, use your car for the big caching expedition and then park it at
a storage place in Ely for 2 months. Then it's there when you finish! (Ely
is a 45 minute hitch from the suggested start point of Lake Valley Summit).
My car was on the east coast so at the last minute I decided I didn't want
the 3000 mile road trip and flew to Vegas. I rented a small SUV in Vegas
for the caching. There's just one major problem. Ely is 4 hours from Vegas
and there is no way to get there. There is no bus, train, plane or car
rental. It's crazy. The nearest of these things are like 150 miles away. An
Uber would be very expensive. And you can't get one in Ely at the end.
Hopefully you have a connection that can somehow get you to Ely. The other
big staging point would be Salt Lake, it's about 3.5 hours from Ely if you
know someone there.

One worst case scenario. You can actually rent a U-Haul in Vegas or Salt
Lake and return it to Ely. There is a U-Haul in Ely! It's about $ 200 plus
probably $ 100 in gas so not cheap, but it's an option if needed. It was
honestly my plan until a hiker friend really helped me out with a ride at
start and end.

I guess if you really don't mind hitching long distances on quiet roads
then you could do that. Technically hitching in Nevada is illegal and I've
known hikers to be hassled. Not ticketed, but told you can't do that. Well
then what do you do?

I really think starting at Lake Valley Summit (Ely) in the Spring as
suggested by Dirtmonger is the way to go, but this getting to Ely thing is
a clusterfuck.

The other places around the route that you can actually get to would be
Wells and Elko on the Amtrak and Tonopah on the bus (Saltlake Express it's
called). But you can't start at these places in the Spring. You'll be in
the mountains with way too much snow right away. These would be Fall
starts, see Dirt's seasons write up for more info. So way better logistics,
but I don't love the Fall start personally.

*Contact Info*

If you've made it this far and have questions feel free to email me at:

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Great Basin Trail

The Great Basin Trail is an ~1,100 mile loop route solely contained within the state of Nevada and the geographic feature of the Great Basin. The route was created as an epic thru-hiking adventure by Ryan "Dirtmonger" Sylva. For more information:


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