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Kearsarge->Forester->Shepherd

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Kearsarge->Forester->Shepherd

Postby Bluewater » Thu Jun 14, 2012 8:55 pm

I definitely did a double take when I first saw that pxt from the top of Forester. That wind breaker is homemade, so it's not like we both hit the same REI sale.

Not to focus too much on pack weight, but Hobbes your Sierra base weight has got me rethinking some of my gear. I thought I was pushing the limit @ 8.2 lbs last summer by using a small tarp, bivy, 18 oz quilt, Kookabay torso pad, homemade cuben rain gear etc. My b/w included a half lb of camera, 4 ozs of maps, several pages ripped out of the Wenk guide and a SPOT (I was solo).

I'm shooting for the 7 lb range next week on a short trip from Cottonwood to Whitney Portal. I just re-read the post about the bad storm on 1000 Isl Lake, so I realize there is an appropriate balance of lightweight, comfort and safety.



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Re: Kearsarge->Forester->Shepherd

Postby Hobbes » Fri Jun 15, 2012 9:09 am

Bluewater wrote: I thought I was pushing te limit @ 8.2 lbs last summer by using a small tarp, bivy, 18 oz quilt, Kookabay torso pad, homemade cuben rain gear etc. My b/w included a half lb of camera, 4 ozs of maps, several pages ripped out of the Wenk guide and a SPOT (I was solo).


I'll tell you where I really achieved some weight savings: no longer taking long (poly) underwear. The top + bottom alone weighed 18oz.

I had literally been studying Nisely's old CLO posts @ BPL, when what he was saying years ago finally sank in: there is a **huge** energy differential (MET rate) between hiking, camp chores/fishing & sleeping. His point was, like the old muscle head saying of "there's no substitute for cubic inches", there's no substitute for loft while sleeping ie Met drops off by a factor of 6-7x.

That is, 18oz of poly won't come close to an extra 2-4 oz of 900FP loft while sleeping. Likewise, a nice lightweight high-quality down vest will provide more clo than either a syn vest or long-sleeve (poly under) shirt.

This is why acquiring the very highest quality down, for either quilt/bag and vest/jacket, is one of the best investments you can make. (And where MYOG plays to its strength - you can make/build the highest quality down quilt/bag possible anywhere for under $200.)

Where down fails is when you're hiking - you don't want it to get wet from sweat/moisture. But here's the thing - if you're pushing, you probably don't need anything more than a lightweight T. I've got an old lightweight wool sweater in case I need something supplemental. And on top of that is my rain shell which I can use as a windshirt (as in the photo).

As for my legs, I simply made a 2oz rain skirt out of sil - complete with slit up the rear (very stylish LOL). You're from SoCal - any beach athlete knows the quickest way to warm up is (a) put on your sweatshirt & (b) wrap your towel around your waist. So my bundling strategy is: sweater, vest, beanie, shell, gloves, skirt. Any colder, and it's time to crawl into sack and sleep.

My core breakdown is 2.8lb for the big 4 and 2.4lb for all my supplemental clothing, rain gear, etc.

One last thing: I believe an 8x10 cat/tapered cut tarp weighs less than a 5x7 tarp + bivy, especially if you use window shrink wrap for the ground cover. With approx 100% more coverage (80-> tapering to 70sf vs 35), it's large enough to protect without a bivy.

By way of ending, I should mention that the above is strictly for 1 season hiking, with perhaps June & Oct as possible shoulders. And, as you mentioned with regard to the Rush Crk thread, if you're going UL, you're gonna have to rely on your feet to get you out of potential trouble.

This might come across as a "duh!" moment to the old-timers, but what finally gave me the confidence to store my traditional gear up in the rafters was this: except for the Kern, the Sierra have a single spine. I mean, I always knew this, but I never put it together in context of what one really needs.

IOW, you can always either walk out or get down within 10 miles. Even @ 2mph, that's only 5 hrs to 'safety'. There aren't a lot of backcountry places where 4-5 hrs can remove you from a potentially precarious situation.
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Re: Kearsarge->Forester->Shepherd

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Jun 15, 2012 3:25 pm

Lot of good ideas! I do disagree with your assessment that you can always quickly get out of the mountains. You cannot if:
1. You get injured and weather turns bad
2. Have to go over a major pass and there is a major lightening storm
3. Are in an off-trail remote place (Gardnier Basin, or the middle of Ionian Basin, for example)
4. Do extensive off-trail travel
5. Your equipment system fails in the middle of the night (I feel being forced to walk out in the dark is not as safe as having enough colthing warmth to hunker down)
6. You get lost

I do agree that your main defense against cold is your sleeping bag. Have a bomb-proof shelter with a good sleeping bag and you can just wait out a lot of weather. I often do not take longjohns, but in this case, I am usually wearing Schoeller climbing pants. I have Arcterex Rho long johns which only weigh 6 oz. I take them more to keep my sleeping bag clean than actually needing the warmth in the Sierra. I am not a fan of polypro underware - never found any that did not make me itchy.

Get into the northern Rockies, and things really change! The Rockies are like hiking year-round in Sierra "shoulder seasons", plus you get multiple daily high intensity lightning storms from July to late August, when it then starts to snow.
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Re: Kearsarge->Forester->Shepherd

Postby Hobbes » Sat Jun 16, 2012 9:40 am

Wandering Daisy wrote:Lot of good ideas! I do disagree with your assessment that you can always quickly get out of the mountains. You cannot if:
1. You get injured and weather turns bad
2. Have to go over a major pass and there is a major lightening storm
3. Are in an off-trail remote place (Gardnier Basin, or the middle of Ionian Basin, for example)
4. Do extensive off-trail travel
5. Your equipment system fails in the middle of the night (I feel being forced to walk out in the dark is not as safe as having enough colthing warmth to hunker down)
6. You get lost


Buzz Burrell, Skurka's hiking partner on the SHR in 2008, has an interesting philosophy regarding many of these aspects:

Photon light (aka "Micro-Light") - These are tiny LED lights weighing 1/4 oz; they should be put in your fanny pack and reside there until the day you accidentally do not get back to the trailhead until after dark; you can't run a trail with these, but you can walk, which is way faster than crawling back on your hands and knees, feeling your way.

Windbreaker: If a storm comes up, a super-light (like, 3 ounces) won't keep you dry, but will keep you alive until you make it back to the car. It should wad up into the size of a sports bar. Note: The criteria for gear selection for a trail run is NOT to keep you comfortable during a major storm; If the blizzard or thunderstorm hits, you get the heck out of there. Quit, go home, come back again another day. The above two items will help you do that.

Map: If you are taking trails you are not familiar with, bringing a trail map is sort of obvious, but thought I'd mention it so you don't think I'm callous and insensitive.

Sports bar: It's not a bad idea to keep one sports bar in your fanny pack. It will get so stale you'll never eat it ... until you seriously bonk, in which case you'll remember it, rip it open, and nothing ever tasted so good. Happens all the time, but on the road you can beg for food or go into a gas station; On a trail, grubbing for roots and berries just isn't enough.

Money: This is probably my most clever suggestion. Bus fare. A credit card. If you get really lost, having some cash will make finding your way back to your car much more pleasant. I've gotten so lost before, I've spent the night in a motel in the wrong town entirely. Without my .2-oz credit card, I would have been sleeping under a pile of newspapers on a park bench. The motel hot tub was way nicer.

First-aid kit: This is what you really don't need. Every book or magazine I've ever read has long lists of first-aid items, but those items are largely worthless. What's a band-aid going to accomplish anyway? For minor injuries, everything in that little kit can wait until you get home, while if you get seriously hurt, nothing in that kit can do any good; The only items that will help require medical training and, if you have medical training, you don't need to be reading this.

http://www.runnersworld.com/cda/microsi ... -0,00.html

I recently added back a semi-heavy, but really nice, Petzl head lamp to my kit. I had been reading about the techniques used to set the JMT record(s), and to a man, they all run through the night and (fitfully) take small naps during the day. In this fashion, they don't need/take bags, because they're burning calories (ie staying warm) throughout the night. (Again, the MET ratings are off the chart - 6-7x vs sleeping.)

http://adventurerun.wordpress.com/2009/ ... il-record/

The realization that night should not be a hindrance, but is a crucial 8-10 hours of the day, especially in a flight-to-safety situation, made me realize that having a great head-lamp ain't just for camp chores. It's an essential piece of equipment to help get your butt out of trouble if you go wandering in the woods with little to no protection.
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Re: Kearsarge->Forester->Shepherd

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Jun 16, 2012 12:56 pm

I must disagree with Mr. Skurka. For most people his "plan" is adding a lot of risk. Comfort and survival mode are two different things, BUT, survivial mode can quickly degrade into hypothrmia at the least small glitch because his system has NO backup.

As for no first aid kit - twice I have been able to walk out because I had a good ace-bandage wrap that I used on my ankle. Moleskin has allowed me to walk farther on blisters. I seldom get blisters but the few times I have, the moleskin has saved the day.

I have spent considerable time coming back in the dark from climbs. The little 1/4 oz lamp does NOT cut it! Maybe on a big wide trail, but not on less used trails or off-trail.

Walking out, in the dark, in a major storm is NOT safe! That 3 oz "jacket" is no good if it does not keep you dry. And if you are counting on down as your major insulation, it gets wet and is worthless.

And you still have not addressed injuries and bad weather combined. Even Mr Skurka would have difficulty walking out in a storm with many illnesses and injuries.

As for the map, of course have a map. You can still get lost WITH a map, WITH a GPS.

I am certainly not an advocate of the "boy scout" version of "be prepared", but you are talking about 1-2 pounds that would greatly increase your safety factor; a 12 oz jacket vs a 3 oz; a few ounces for a better headlamp; one wool base layer vs down (add maybe 8 oz max), 2-3 oz for some first aid gear; a weather worthy shelter (good bivy is under 1.5 pounds).

The idea that you can ALWAYS quickly excape bad weather or shelter failure by walking out in all sorts of conditions with all sorts of medical issues, is total bovine droppings, even in the Sierra!
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Re: Kearsarge->Forester->Shepherd

Postby no2haven » Mon Jun 18, 2012 8:53 am

Hobbes wrote:Buzz Burrell, Skurka's hiking partner on the SHR in 2008, has an interesting philosophy regarding many of these aspects: <<snip>>


A lot of this philosophy makes me think of the Bear Grylls survival show on Discovery a few years back (who knows, maybe they're still producing it). I always enjoyed his suggestions about what to do when you're lost in a jungle - climb a 30' palm tree with no branches to see where the ocean is. Are you following a river to the ocean that goes over a 50' waterfall with no way down and no immediately obvious path around? Just jump! (OK, maybe toss a large rock down first to make sure its a deep pool just to be safe). These tips might help you if you're lost and stranded while in peak physical shape and possessing Olympian-level coordination and agility. However, I doubt you'll be jumping off cliffs and climbing trees with a broken leg. So then what do you do?

Clearly, everyone's level of risk tolerance varies. Some people like Skurka do incredible things on very limited resources. They also train and focus exclusively for these events. The man who did the JMT speed record linked above kept his focus and training going in spite of his wife's pregnancy. That's the kind of focus doing these events on such a limited margin require - and he barely made it! Reading the end of Brett's report, he was just barely on upright side of the edge on his way down to Happy Isles. All it would've taken was a stumble and he might not have been able to stand back up under his own power.

My point, is that you should take advise from these people (and their gear lists) with a grain of salt. They're the Bear Grylls of the world - in peak performance, with peak mental focus, with exceptional preparation, this works. For a more "normal" person on a normal weekend hike, a 3oz shell, stale power bar, and headlamp is pushing it if more than one thing goes wrong. And if you get out there enough - if you're pushing yourself hard enough - eventually more than one thing will go wrong.
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Re: Kearsarge->Forester->Shepherd

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Jun 18, 2012 9:55 am

Think seriously about the level of risk you are willing to take. Over the years, as I have experienced "epics", my risk tolerance weakened. It is easy to theoretically accept risk when you have not experienced the outcome! You also have to accurately evaluate the risk. This is where I think ultral UL guys are really dangerous. They are not accerately evaluating risk; they are ignoring risk. Where do they get off thinking that they will never get injured, never "bonk", never make mistakes? We never get to interview the dead. I wonder if before they die the say "oh, yes, my great althletic feat was worth dying for".

I DO appreciate the advances in light weight gear that the UL people have pushed. We can all, even weekend warriors, reap the benefits of many of these equipment improvements.

The Skurka's of the backpack world are much like the elite no-rope free climbers of the rock climbing world. They take LOTS of risk, and for the most part get by with it, partially from being super strong, well trained and going fast, but partly due to dumb luck. And boy does the media love these guys - they are to rock stars of the media. Nobody in the media is interested in a well-planned, well executed, normal trip with no survival situatations and no drama.

Hobbs - back to your post- it was interesting reading of your experimentation with UL methods. Just be careful. We would like to have you stick around for several more years.
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Re: Kearsarge->Forester->Shepherd

Postby Hobbes » Tue Jun 19, 2012 7:38 am

Hobbs - back to your post- it was interesting reading of your experimentation with UL methods. Just be careful. We would like to have you stick around for several more years.


I believe the differences between XC and on trail hiking (especially a highway like the PCT) are similar to those for packing for a long (scheduled) business trip vs a quick (spontaneous) weekend getaway.

One requires consideration & preparation for all kinds of contingencies, while the other is over so quickly that you can almost get away with nothing.

It's important to note that all the JMT record attempts were performed during optimal weather. Each of these guys either terminated or turned back on previous attempts, usually due to weather. They prepare/wait until it's go time, and then they go.

If you're going out hell or high water, then you obviously need to be prepared. That's not my style; I've been surfing so long that I'm completely oriented towards "seize the moment". If it's crappy/stormy, it's not even on my radar.

My trips are always short in duration, but long in activity ie sun up to sun down. I watch the weather very closely, and make a decision based on a best guess. That being said, it looks like we're due for a major heat wave this week. LP is supposed to hit 100 on Thursday.

Who's going? (We have, yes, a scheduled family trip on the 4th.)
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Re: Kearsarge->Forester->Shepherd

Postby oldranger » Tue Jun 19, 2012 9:20 am

Folks following this thread:

Pay attention to what Daisy is saying! She probably has more experience than all you 30 somethings on down have combined. She knows what happens when things turn to sh-t! We oldsters certainly appreciate advances in lightweight gear but also appreciate having a margin of safety--there is a reason that we are still backpacking in our 60s with 50 or more years of experience.

I don't understand the logic of spending lots of hours creating a great down quilt and then getting under it without donning long underwear to protect your gear from your accumulated dirt and sweat residue. Everyone knows that keeping down dry is important but keeping it clean is important, too.

First aid kits. Mine is small, focus is on wound treatment--antibiotic cream and non-stick pads. Bandanas then used for wrapping. At my age I am frequently 3 days from a trailhead--40 years ago that would be a day and a half. In May I actually needed bandaids to stop from bleeding from fingers during meal preparation (due to medication, hopefully to be halted before my next trip, I bleed like a stuck pig from minor scrapes on my fingers). Obviously a piece of bandana could have worked too but would have been a bit awkward.

Spot Locator--it bothers me when people think that being in a group obviates the benefits of a locator. 2 days from help and relying on others in the group can result in death for serious injuries. Spot is no guarantee but greatly increases the odds of survival if you have a serious internal injury or burst appendix and you are in Kerrick Canyon in N. Yosemite.

Hike Safe!

Mike
Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!
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Re: Kearsarge->Forester->Shepherd

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Jun 19, 2012 11:38 am

Hobbs- I am probably destined for fair weather, short duration trips as I get older, but right now, my style is almost the opposite. I am doing final panning on my summer trip (about 210 miles/ 36-40 days in the northern Rockies, with 2 resupplies). I am guarenteed nearly daily thunderstorms for half the trip, likely some snow, mostly nights near freezing, usually 5-8 days straight without seeing a single other person. About 80% of the trip is off-trail. You just cannot keep going all day like we do in the Sierra. One must get up crack of dawn and plan to be over passes by 2PM due to storms. If the afternoon storm does not materilaize, you just consider yourself lucky and "make hay" while the sun shines! You plan for 5-6 mile days, and then double up when the weather cooperates. I swear I have configured 100 different scenarios of daily travel and am still struggling to get it to work.

I am absolutely agonizing over gear. In my youth, I would just dump on the gear and haul it! My body can no longer carry a 50-60 pound pack. Hence, I have embraced light weight backpacking. My TarpTent is fine for the Sierra, but a bit marginal for my anticipated conditions. I am thinking of taking my bivy sack as backup. I would LOVE to buy one of those nice new light bivy sacks. But I already own three! My husband says I should give two of my old bivy sacks to the homeless, then I would only own one, and could justify buying another! And then, the 10-12 day rations (already down to 1.3# per day - by the time you have been out in the mountains 30+ days, you do develop quite an appatite) put my pack weight right at the limit (both weight and capacity) of my lighter, preferred pack. The last time I did a 13-day trip in the Wind Rivers I used my external frame Kelty with home-made light pack bag. And fishing. Fishing is great - do I add fishing gear? (probably yes). Light and fast, this trip IS NOT going to be! As much as I like the light and fast philosophy, it just is not working out.

The Sierra is the only place I have backpacked where one can really count on drying out after some foul weather. When I first backpacked in the Sierra I was amazed that I could put damp socks out to dry overnight! Not that the Sierra cannot catch you off-guard, but it is not as common. We become very spoiled backpacking in the Sierra!
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