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Tent / Tarp in Onion Valley, Kearsarge Pass

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Tent / Tarp in Onion Valley, Kearsarge Pass

Postby sammermpc » Thu Aug 10, 2006 1:08 pm

We´ll be heading up there at the tail end of August, and I was wondering if it was at all feasible to go without tents. Is the weather just too unpredictable to chance it, or could tarps make it at that time of year?

It seems like we´d be happier with tents but going en plein air would be so much more exciting.

Thanks!



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Postby krudler » Thu Aug 10, 2006 6:46 pm

Unless the weather forecast within a few days of your departure predicts rain and t-storms, I would say tarp it. Of course, even with inclement weather you can tarp it safely if you know how to rig it up right. Worst case scenario you could just curl up in the tarp like a blanket and it would keep you dry, although it might not be the most comfortable experience you would survive.

This is just my opinion though, I am going on a 2 week trip along the Silver Divide at the same time and I fully plan on tarping it. I dont like to carry the extra weight, especially on a longer trip.
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Postby copeg » Fri Aug 11, 2006 10:15 am

I'll second Krudler's comments. Maybe check the weather before your trip to decide. A tarp will keep you dry if used correctly - set up properly (ie correct positioning and taught) and in a place where water won't pool underneath you.
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Postby nazdarovye » Fri Aug 11, 2006 10:51 am

I agree too.

I was on the JMT near there in August two years ago and used a bivy sack and poncho tarp. I wore the poncho just once on one afternoon for a brief shower, and ended up sleeping out in the open in the bivy sack every night but one (and even then, when I pitched the poncho as a tarp, it didn't rain).

Obviously there's no guarantee - and of course check the forecast for larger weather patterns - but I think a tarp is a fine choice.

(Bugs are another issue....)
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Postby giantbrookie » Fri Aug 11, 2006 11:19 am

nazdarovye wrote:(Bugs are another issue....)


Yes, bugs are what normally drive me inside a tent. It sort of depends on how cold the nights get by the end of August whether or not the bugs might be an issue. As noted above, if bugs don't bother you, and you can set up a tarp effectively in a pinch, as noted above, then you can probably make do.

I realize that tents are weight issues for some, but we (my wife and I) have always brought a tent along as insurance against unpredictable weather changes (forecast isn't 100% reliable, you know) and unseasonal bug problems. If the weather is fine and there are no bugs then we'd simply not pitch our tent. I do remember one memorable time (it was July, though, not late August which tends to be drier), when an unpredictable change did occur. My wife and I were peacefully sleeping under starry skies in the Ram Lake basin, a trailless basin above Purple Lake south of the Mammoth area. At about 4 am we were awakened by the sensation of snow falling on our faces. We were apparently on the lead edge of a front that had come in from the west--the high pressure system that was supposed to have shunted that front northward had apparently collapsed. Having come in cross country from Convict Canyon we did not want to have out exit cut off, so we hurriedly packed in the dark and in the early dawn raced over the crest just as it started to rain cats and dogs. Now, if we had planned to stay longer and weren't so worried about going over a steep off trail notch to get to our car, we would have simply pitched our tent and crawled inside. On the other hand, I suppose someone with some skills could find a way to set up a tarp to shelter under---this might have been a tad difficult given the lack of trees where we were camped (on the other hand a small shift of the campsite location could have taken one to some trees).

Anyhow, I always like to have the extra assurance of comfort in the event of weather changes (ie the tent), even if it means a bit more weight. The flip side is that neither my wife nor I will ever come close for qualifying as ultralight backpackers.
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Postby cmon4day » Fri Aug 11, 2006 11:28 am

We only use a tent if necessary. Usually just sleep under the stars. If the weather turns to @#$%, then the tent is a nice back up.
If you go solo, then weight is a bigger issue.
I usually go with a couple of BPing partners and we just divide up the tent, ie. poles, tent, and fly. I have a 4# tent and when you split it up, weight is not as big a factor.
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Postby maverick » Fri Aug 11, 2006 4:29 pm

Get a tarptent and youll carry under 2 lbs of water , wind,
rain and bug protection in a small package.
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Postby sammermpc » Sat Aug 12, 2006 2:25 pm

Thanks for all the input--it looks like we´ll check the weather and bring a tarp (and then pray). I don´t own a tent, so if we´re just going to do a tarp I won´t even have to rent one.
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