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TR: Rush Creek to Thousand Island and some words of caution

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Re: TR: Rush Creek to Thousand Island and some words of caution

Postby mokelumnekid » Fri Jun 08, 2012 9:37 pm

Nothing new to add- what others said basically. The way that I deal with it is simply to carry a lot of robust gear (I can hear the collective groan from those of you who pluck the unnecessary bristles out of your toothbrush to save weight :p ). It is not that I'm old skool (okay maybe lazy) but that it reflects that I pack the same way for the Sierra as for North Cascades, Olympics, Wind River/Rockies, etc. And those places are guaranteed to deliver Biblical beat-downs if one doesn't have bomb-proof shelter. Yes folks that includes rain-pants which weigh about a dime, but can make a big difference in a day walking through wet brush or in a hard wind. I also carry a stove that will work in just about any conditions, and have been mighty glad for it too. So my pack simply sucks, too heavy. Seriously. But it hasn't stopped me yet. Over kill? Maybe lots of times in the Sierra. But then again I like the feeling that I am respecting the process of self sufficiency. I like the feeling that I am doing what I can to have my act together to deal with whatever, and be there to help others should the need arise. I'm no Norman Clyde with his epic packs, but I kind of lean that way.

BUT..having said all that I too have been suckered onto the sandy granite ledge with the great views (that's why they invented free-standing tents right?), only to discover in the driving rain that I am now camped in a growing lake... :crybaby:



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Re: TR: Rush Creek to Thousand Island and some words of caution

Postby jessegooddog » Sat Jun 09, 2012 7:34 am

And that little furry dog had to have a role in keeping you all warm enough throughout the night!
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Re: TR: Rush Creek to Thousand Island and some words of caution

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Sat Jun 09, 2012 2:22 pm

Lots of good advice here. Nothing like a sketchy experience to rearrange your priorities. Two comments:
1) Bathtub bottom tent. I abandoned tarp-tenting long ago, and my die-hard tarp-tenting pard finally gave them up for a lite bathtub bottom tent (after some bad experiences). I have two one-man tents each weighing 1 pound, and they both have built-in bathtub bottoms.
2) Make sure the bathtub bottoms are water-tight before you go on a trip! Two years ago I got caught in an all night storm and found out the hard way that the bathtub had a hole in it.
Many years ago I woke up one morning after a hard rain and found out my tent was in a pool of water! But no water got inside my tent.
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Re: TR: Rush Creek to Thousand Island and some words of caution

Postby jfelectron » Sat Jun 09, 2012 5:48 pm

Yes certainly all floors are not created equal. Many silnylon floors will seep water when bodyweight s applied to them. When using a single wall shelter with sil floor its important to know what its limits are. I have a tarptent, but I didn't bring it because the beaks don't provide enough coverage for angled driving rain. The pyramid tarp is full coverage but has no protection against flooding. So yeah I'm considering other lightweight 2p shelters.

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Re: TR: Rush Creek to Thousand Island and some words of caution

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Jun 09, 2012 9:59 pm

Last summer I got caught in a severe storm in Gardiner Basin. (It rained 4 inches in 1 hour at Cedar Grove, I was told by the ranger). I too thought my spot was good drainage - I actually looked carefully for good drainage. I too got flooded and the floor of my Tarptent Moment seeped water. What saved me was that I have spent months on end in the Wind Rivers where severe storms are normal. I anchored my tent with HUGE rocks. The minute the storm appeared to be severe, I stuffed my sleeping bag and put it inside a waterproof garbage bag, put on my warm clothes and rain pants and jacket and sat in a ball position inside the tent, on top of my sleeping pad. I sat it out until the rain stopped. By then I had several inches of water under the tent. Then I got out in the dark and used my handy sponge and spent an hour removing water from under the tent and digging drainage trenches. All that work kept me warm. By the time I got the water out the clouds lifted and the moon was out! After the storm passed it got below freezing and everything turned to ice. But I still had a nice warm dry sleeping bag.

Not all Ultra-light equipment is the best in severe conditions. Silicon coated nylon (used in the Tarptents) is NOT waterproof, it leaks under certain pressures, such as a person's weight on the floor of a tent. I have some UL stuff, but am not sold on going totally UL. I like to have a mountaineering style rain jacket. I always have one layer of wool that is warm when wet. My down sweater is a luxury - a nice thing for chilly mornings, but I do not count on it as a reliable foul weather layer.

I think you can get by most of the time with UL in the Sierra. I am always surprised when people say they have never been in severe storms in the Sierra. I think they just have not been out enough. I have had a week of lousy weather in the Sierra. I honestly think if you go 100% Ultra Light, and if you are out enough, you will get into an epic condition eventually.

I am glad all turned out OK. I think a lot of people are mis-judging the weather due to the low snow year. It is really tempting to think it is July!

By the way, I have never had a warm-blooded furry dog to keep me warm. Does it work?
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Re: TR: Rush Creek to Thousand Island and some words of caution

Postby mokelumnekid » Sat Jun 09, 2012 10:42 pm

WD: A sponge, what a great idea. I also carry a few garbage bags as back-up in case the inner fortress gets breached. And of course full rain gear, FULL.

And thinking back on my years in Boy Scouts in the mid-1960's where we would go for week long back pack trips in the central Sierra (Ebbetts-Sonora Pass areas) with NO shelter or rain gear, other than a army surplus half-tarp ground sheet (no sleeping pad either) and somehow never had any major disasters! A few squalls, but that was it. Nothing that a roaring fire couldn't fix (we camped at about 7,000'-8,000'). We typically went in July, before major thunder storms or monsoon seasons. Maybe that was the fix?
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Re: TR: Rush Creek to Thousand Island and some words of caution

Postby jfelectron » Sat Jun 09, 2012 11:33 pm

WD:

Thanks for sharing your experience.
Had we acted a bit faster the bag wouldn't have gotten wet but seeing water rush in as a torrent was almost surreal. I prob stared for 15 or 20 seconds before I sprung into action .

Yeah, I'm evaluating all my gear to balance UL with comfortable margins of safety for adverse events. We didn't have a control, but the additional body-heat of the dog certainly helped. He was of course one more thing to worry about keeping warm. When either of us or the dog started to shiver we shifted to trap more heat or deliver to one another better.

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Re: TR: Rush Creek to Thousand Island and some words of caution

Postby freestone » Sun Jun 10, 2012 5:51 am

By the way, I have never had a warm-blooded furry dog to keep me warm. Does it work?


The Inuit think so. A "THREE DOG NIGHT" is one heck of a cold night on the ice!
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Re: TR: Rush Creek to Thousand Island and some words of caution

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun Jun 10, 2012 9:43 am

I think what is important in learning from this is that high altitude, above timber backpacking and camping is REALLY different from below timber below 10,000 feet stuff. The PCT hikers get by with UL gear because they move fast enough to camp each night at lower elevations. They do not specifically go out to camp above 10,000 feet, whereas I purposely plan on camping from 10,000 feet to 12,000 feet to experience that enviornment. Over the years I have also noticed that in spite of not being very comfortable (very claustrophobic), a full-on mountaineering bivy sack is very weather-proof. I think a good combination is a bivy sack with small tarp over.

There are no simple rules. Every extreme event requires immediate judgement calls. None of us can second guess what we would have done. I have had that "mind freezing moment" and then other times I have immediately reacted properly. Practice makes perfect. I have had lots of practice in really severe storms, whereas, a lot of California hikers do not get this experience. Most of the time moving camp in a storm is not a good idea, but sometimes it is critical to do just that.

I do not think a tarp per-se is the problem. In 1969 I spent 28 days straight in a tarp, and it snowed every day and never got my down bag wet. We did not even have stoves - had to build a fire to cook every meal. But we were a large group and in foul weather I think being in a larger group helps. With a large group, if one person gets their stuff wet, everyone gives up a little to keep that person warm. And yes, two people can fit into a sleeping bag! Body huddling works to conserve heat. I have done that many times when caught up on a ledge overnight on a climb.
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Re: TR: Rush Creek to Thousand Island and some words of caution

Postby maverick » Sun Jun 10, 2012 10:17 am

WD wrote:
I got out in the dark and used my handy sponge

Years ago I cut one of those super absorbent car washing sponges in half and it is
always in my bag for this emergency.

WD wrote:
Silicon coated nylon (used in the Tarptents) is NOT waterproof, it leaks under certain
pressures, such as a person's weight on the floor of a tent

Why one should carry a descent ground cloth which can help, though it will not help in
extreme cases.
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Re: TR: Rush Creek to Thousand Island and some words of caution

Postby SSSdave » Sun Jun 10, 2012 1:34 pm

That weekend pretty much had a a similar foul weather forecast just like the MD holiday the weekend before.

Another lesson any time of summer given the level of weather information now available on the web, is that backpackers would be wise to learn how to better assess forecasted weather during their trips. The best source of that information is the NWS forecast discussions that often have valuable information available on what might happen days before typical TV weatherpersons report their simplified forecasts.

http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/mtr/forecast.php

Another thing a person can do during periods foul weather is likely, is note where dense groves of mountain hemlock are located as such groves often provide fine protection even when one does not have adequate gear. I have more trips without tents only bringing Gortex bivy's than with. Being out in the open inside a bivy is unpleasant if rains will be for hours so I usually will move my gear to such groves even though the bivy would end up atop some rather uneven roots and all. In the Thousand Island Lake area such trees are below the outlet about a quarter mile on the north side. As you found out most of the well used campsites on the northeast side of the lake along the JMT are quite exposed with trees mainly whitebark pines thin.

Also a good backyard sprinkler test on one's tent for at least a half hour before a trip can show where a tent will leak. Also flip it upsidedown part of the time to give the bottom tub a decent test.

During my first decade of backpacking, I seemed to catch quite a lot of intense foul weather that did much to make me wiser. I'm pretty much of the mindset mokelumnekid related. And what Wandering Daisy noted about the many backpackers that claim they have never encountered severe storms, I too have to believe they simply have not been out that much. Sobering is being in heavy rain of more than a couple inches that causes the brown duff material below trees to flow about the terrain like lava. Sometimes I have tented atop slightly tilted granite slabs because I know there will not be any issues no matter how much it rains. And yeah I always carry some synthetic chamois one can buy at auto parts stores in their car washing section.
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Re: TR: Rush Creek to Thousand Island and some words of caution

Postby SandStorm » Sun Jun 10, 2012 3:46 pm

Thank you for sharing this story, Jonathan. An important lesson. One that sometimes must be learned repeatedly, and usually best learned from experience. Never forget it, count your blessings, and drive on.

Sobering is being in heavy rain of more than a couple inches that causes the brown duff material below trees to flow about the terrain like lava.


Good description. Got a taste of that last summer during a serious cloud burst. Luckily it was a layover day. :D
Last edited by SandStorm on Sun Jun 10, 2012 5:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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