TR: Southern JMT on the brink of winter, October 2018

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kpeter
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Re: TR: Southern JMT on the brink of winter, October 2018

Post by kpeter » Mon Apr 15, 2019 7:48 pm

Thanks for posting and letting others know of the difficulties of October hiking.

In August I did almost exactly the same route--to begin with. Also camping at Kearsarge, also camping about 11100 or 11200 north of Forester, also camping at Tyndall Creek. I recognized all the spots from your very nice photography.
http://highsierratopix.com/community/vi ... ge#p138998
I also had to cut days shorter than I wanted to--like you I camped north of Forester because of a storm. But I was able to continue on since I did not have the extreme cold, and I had a device to signal changes in plans if I decided to stay in longer.

If I were a relative newcomer to the SIerra and I read your trip report, here are some lessons I might take away:
1) It is easy to overestimate the distances you can hike when not accounting for the effects of elevation, weather, and lack of daylight on your pace.
2) Constant cold is a big psychological problem. Having enough clothing (even two sleeping bags!) will keep you alive but it might not make for a pleasant trip when it gets and stays cold constantly.
3) My decision to take a device to signal home for changes in plans is reinforced. Having to get out by a certain day to avoid causing a panic can put pressure on decision making.
4) Flexibility and having an early exit plan are very very good ideas.
5) October photography can be very beautiful.
6) Shepherd Pass is not high on my list of trails to hike.

You are mostly correct, by the way, about the "Elk" carcasses--but did get the species wrong. There is another thread on this site that explains what happened--and also on Bishop Pass.
http://highsierratopix.com/community/vi ... ath+bishop
https://sierrabighorn.blogspot.com/2017 ... ref=fb&m=1
Herds of deer attempted to cross the passes when they were filled with snow unseasonably late due to the prior big winter, and they slipped and died on the rocks below. More than 40 deaths on Shepherd Pass and more than 70 in Bishop Pass. These mass deer kills are a phenomenon that has repeated a few times over the decades under exactly the wrong conditions. Those deer had been dead for about one year when you came across them.

All in all, your post shows a very healthy attitude and a lot of resilience. You appear to have had a beautiful trip despite the cold and the change in plans. And you are right to be proud of that night photo of Kearsarge Lakes!








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sekihiker
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Re: TR: Southern JMT on the brink of winter, October 2018

Post by sekihiker » Tue Apr 16, 2019 2:56 pm

I've got to remind myself to read this report again in the middle of a hot, Fresno day. It chilled me to the bone.
Great photos.

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tahoefoothills
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Re: TR: Southern JMT on the brink of winter, October 2018

Post by tahoefoothills » Wed Apr 17, 2019 6:34 am

Great, great photos!! I did your first proposed route (via East Lake and over Harrison Pass) in October 2014 on a two-and-a-half day, two night trip in October 2014. I was not comfortable going up and over Harrison Pass.

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Jason
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Re: TR: Southern JMT on the brink of winter, October 2018

Post by Jason » Wed Apr 17, 2019 11:21 am

That was a great trip report! I enjoyed reading it, thanks for taking the time to post it. I remember reading about those animals, and if I recall correctly, the thought was that the deer were migrating and had slipped on ice and had all fallen to their deaths.

Here's a link to a thread on this site:

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=17295&p=129927&hili ... ss#p129927

Thanks again for the great report.

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Re: TR: Southern JMT on the brink of winter, October 2018

Post by Wandering Daisy » Wed Apr 17, 2019 12:51 pm

Winter conditions really require winter-specific gear. Simply doubling up summer gear does not always do the trick. Wind chill is a big factor in anything you wear. Those down jackets provide insulation, but not necessarily wind protection. However, that furry hat that one of you wore IS great winter headgear! Did you have any problems with your cameras freezing? In those conditions I usually have to sleep with my camera so I can take AM photos. I have been out when it got to -40F one night. We were inside a winter mountaineering tent and a winter-specific sleeping bag rated to -20. The tent itself added 10-15degree warmth. Lots of little tricks you can do to help you stay warm. I was fortunate to learn these from some real winter experts and all my equipment was provided.

Shoulder season is always hard because most of us do not have a lot of winter specific gear and as you found out, doubling summer gear makes the pack really heavy and does not actually double the warmth. Limited daylight adds to the total hours that you have to handle cold; once the sun leaves or you fall into shadows the temperature drops quickly. But as your photos show, it is a beautiful time of year with crystal clear skies. You have learned a lot and will have lots of good memories from the trip. I am glad everything turned out OK.

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Re: TR: Southern JMT on the brink of winter, October 2018

Post by dbogey » Thu Apr 18, 2019 10:43 am

Liked your TR and the pics were very good. As a photog, I'm always looking to see what others have taken on their trips. Just picked up Nikon Z6, used the d810 previously. You mentioned you brought a few lenses but didn't see them on your spreadsheet. I'm heading up Shepherds pass mid-August w/my daughter and I'm trying to figure the camera gear that I want to haul.
Just another day in paradise

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Re: TR: Southern JMT on the brink of winter, October 2018

Post by dbogey » Thu Apr 18, 2019 11:16 am

Liked your TR and the pics were very good. As a photog, I'm always looking to see what others have taken on their trips. Just picked up Nikon Z6, used the d810 previously. You mentioned you brought a few lenses but didn't see them on your spreadsheet. I'm heading up Shepherds pass mid-August w/my daughter and I'm trying to figure the camera gear that I want to haul.
Just another day in paradise

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