I have been using the HT in the 40 quite a bit lately, and man, lemme tell ya it needs more power.
Like Jeff said, even with an external antenna (albeit a small one) hitting th econnection from the front range can be tough... I was also in grand junction a few weeks back and as jeff states it was really hard to hit the connection while in the town onee of the repeaters was in. on the innerstate it works OK on simplex if I am 5 miles or so from the other person I am talking to, but any farther it gets sketchy. Also, the thing heats up a lot if you use it non stop... to the point that you want to set it down.
If it were me, i'd get a cheap decent radio (the FT-2800 I borrowed from tim this weekend rocked) and get a cheap 2meter HT to have on the trail and for folks to borrow.
I spent the big bucks on the VX-7r and while it is nice, I seldom find myself movin from 2 meters... when I do it is totally non mission critical either. What HAS been mission critical is having a decent high power rig in the truck with a decent antenna. I can't count the number of times I have been grateful that I had the extra juice and the antenna was as good as it gets (within reason.. mine is a 15 dollar 5/8 wave wilson that outperforms a more expensive one I had). Many times the folks that needed help were JUST within reach with my trucks rig... no way that the HT could have worked. That even happened this weekend on the Camp hale run. The only way I was able to talk to the folks on Holy Cross was with the 50watts that the FT-2800 had. When I switched to my HT I couldn't communicate.
Anyways, just my .02.