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#156990 - 11/08/11 02:36 PM JMT in Winter? Or Arizona Trail?
MPCWatkins Offline
member

Registered: 10/23/11
Posts: 40
Loc: Middle Georgia
Hey all,

I had planned to travel to Ireland this December for 27 days to explore the country as well as some backcountry trekking. Due to recent financial complications, this trip is no longer feasible.

I am now thinking of thru-hiking the John Muir trail. Wanted to see what the feasibility of this trip is in the winter time. I have been reading a great deal of literature regarding the trail, but wanted to get some opinions from the forum.

A few questions I have are...

1. Will I need full mountaineering gear for the mountains on the trail(Ice Axe, snowshoes, Crampons)?

2. Along with that, do I need mountaineering experience for the summits(only one reaches above 14,000. Most are at or below 12,000)?

3. Is it possible to do this trip in 27 days in the winter time(Including travel time out there)?

I have more questions, but those will be the real determinants of whether I am able to do the trip or not. Dates of travel are December 11th, 2011- January 7th, 2012.

Thanks for your time.

All the best,
Mark


Edited by OregonMouse (11/21/11 08:10 PM)
Edit Reason: edited by moderator to change title
_________________________
"Brothers. What we do in life, echos in eternity."
-Maximus Decimus Meridius

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#156999 - 11/08/11 04:41 PM Re: 1 month on the John Muir? [Re: MPCWatkins]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1736
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
"Hiking" the John Muir Trail in the winter is possible but it would be a major undertaking. First, most of the trail is usually under several feet (6' to 10') of snow by that time of the year (read the accounts of the Donner Party). So, route finding would be difficult at best and you would need skis or snowshoes to travel. Second, none of the resupply points are open in the winter so you would have to carry all of your food and fuel with you from the start. At 2 pounds of food per day, 27 days of food would weigh 54 pounds. You would also need a lot of fuel because you would often be melting snow for water. Third, it is cold in the Sierra in the winter. Check the weather statistics for Mammoth Lakes to get an idea of temperatures and snowfall and then remember that most of the JMT is as high or higher than is Mammoth. Fourth, you would need winter mountaineering experience and equipment. Crossing Muir, Mather, Pinchot and Glen passes are well over 12,000 feet high while Forester Pass and Trail Crest Pass are both over 13,000 feet and have steep pitches. Finishing the trail on top of Mt. Whitney would take you to nearly 14,500'. Winds can be fierce at these altitudes. Winter in the High Sierra is not for sissies.

To camp and move you would need specialized knowledge and equipment. You should be comfortable with techniques such as knowing how to use crampons, skis and/or snowshoes and how to self-arrest from a fall. You would need a four season mountaineering tent, mattress and sleeping bag and the equivalent in clothing.

I seriously doubt that one could cover the full JMT in 27 days in the winter; it would require averaging over eight miles a day. This would be tough sledding grin in the winter. . Were I you, I would wait and do the JMT in the summer.


Edited by Pika (11/08/11 04:46 PM)
_________________________
May I walk in beauty.

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#157006 - 11/08/11 06:14 PM Re: 1 month on the John Muir? [Re: MPCWatkins]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
I fully agree with Pika. In addition to having to average 8mpd to complete the trail without any additional time for exploring, do you really think that you can get away with 27 consecutive days in those mountains at that time of year without getting hammered with one or more severe storms? There goes your 8 miles per day because your going to be hunkered down during those storm events. Now we are talking 10 plus miles per day.

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#157011 - 11/08/11 06:45 PM Re: 1 month on the John Muir? [Re: skcreidc]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6401
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Not yet mentioned is the danger of avalanches. Do you have any training in avalanche avoidance/snowpack assessment?
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#157014 - 11/08/11 07:21 PM Re: 1 month on the John Muir? [Re: MPCWatkins]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
The fact that you are asking these questions tells me that you need mountaineering classes and some experience with short winter camping trips to even begin to think about doing such a trip.

In short, it needs more than you currently have - a real solid sense of whether or not you can do the trip. If you have solid winter skills, you would not ask the questions at all.

If you can't afford going to Ireland, you probably can't afford to do the JMT - winter trips have an entirely different gear list than 3 season trips. A month in high elevation Sierra would mean 4 season gear, full mountaineering style, tent and crampons and all. Also very good routefinding skills. And you should not do it alone unless you have years of experience in winter mountaineering, and you don't mention any companions...
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#157015 - 11/08/11 08:10 PM Re: 1 month on the John Muir? [Re: lori]
MPCWatkins Offline
member

Registered: 10/23/11
Posts: 40
Loc: Middle Georgia
Lori, you, as well as the others, have hit it spot on. I had no idea what I was getting into. Thank you all for your timely and in depth responses. It was just what I was looking for. High altitude packing and mountaineering is a skill that I hope to acquire, but I DEFINITELY am not ready for any type of trip right now. So, we can solidly say that the JMT is out.

Does anyone else have recommendations for another trail that I could hike look at? Would love for it to be a consecutive month, but I will certainly field other options. Perhaps the AT would be a better option since I am located in Georgia?Thanks!

All the best,
Mark

P.S. hey, Pika! Just cause I'm not going on the JMT now doesn't mean I'm a sissy, does it?! Haha!


Edited by MPCWatkins (11/08/11 08:12 PM)
_________________________
"Brothers. What we do in life, echos in eternity."
-Maximus Decimus Meridius

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#157017 - 11/08/11 08:37 PM Re: 1 month on the John Muir? [Re: MPCWatkins]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1736
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
No, you are wise, not a sissy. smile

If you are interested in winter hiking, you may want to look at the southern half of the Arizona Trail: Winter is the preferred time of the year to hike this section. The full trail goes from Coronado National Monument on the Mexican border to Utah near Knabb. At present, the trail is nearly 800 miles long and parts of it are along old jeep roads. The southern Arizona part of the trail is largely upland desert although it also traverses the Huachuca Mountains, The Patagonia Mountains, the eastern Santa Rita Mountains, the Rincon Mountains and the Santa Catalina Mountains. If you hike at night you will share the trail with a few undocumented immigrants. You can easily hike 300 miles of the trail in winter and only occasionally have to route find on snow-covered trail. Water is usually available along the trail in winter but not in summer or fall. Once the trail reaches the Mogollion Rim, it is continuously above 7000'; it is snowing there as I write this. A GPS would be useful for much of the southern Arizona part of the trail; there are parts that are not yet well mapped. Check out the web sites listed below.

Three season gear would be quite adequate for winter on the southern Arizona trail if you have a sleeping bag good to about 10 to 15F.

http://www.greatoutdoors.com/published/hiking-the-arizona-trail

http://www.aztrail.org/


Edited by Pika (11/08/11 08:44 PM)
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May I walk in beauty.

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#157018 - 11/08/11 08:43 PM Re: 1 month on the John Muir? [Re: Pika]
MPCWatkins Offline
member

Registered: 10/23/11
Posts: 40
Loc: Middle Georgia
Wow! That is a great option. That gives me some great reading for this evening. Thank you! Would this require any mountaineering gear? How about resupplies?

Will ask/update as I read into it. Again, Thanks.

All the best,
Mark
_________________________
"Brothers. What we do in life, echos in eternity."
-Maximus Decimus Meridius

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#157019 - 11/08/11 08:45 PM Re: 1 month on the John Muir? [Re: Pika]
Heather-ak Offline
member

Registered: 07/11/10
Posts: 597
Loc: Fairbanks, AK
How dangerous is it with undocument immigrants using it? Not necessarily the people immigrating themselves but both the wolves from across the border as well as the Arizona "posse".

I wonder if I could talk my husband into hiking next January (2013 not 2012) (for the entire month - or heck even two weeks.) I get squirrelly here in January - and there has to be at least some sunshine in that area in January.


Edited by Heather-ak (11/08/11 08:48 PM)
Edit Reason: next January meaning next, next

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#157020 - 11/08/11 08:50 PM Re: 1 month on the John Muir? [Re: MPCWatkins]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1736
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
No mountaineering gear required as far as I know. There may be a few icy stretches where instep crampons would keep you from slipping and sliding. Resupply is pretty easy: there are towns along the way and it is easy and legal to cache supplies along the way ahead of time. Just don't forget where your cache is. That is one of the uses of a good GPS.
_________________________
May I walk in beauty.

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#157021 - 11/08/11 09:07 PM Re: 1 month on the John Muir? [Re: Heather-ak]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1736
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
Heather, you can hike beyond the "undocumented zone" in a day or two. If you choose your campsite away from the trail, are quiet and don't build a fire, there is relatively little risk of encountering illegals or drug smugglers. If you are aware of the possibility and keep your eyes open then there is not much risk; they try to avoid hikers.

Most of the Arizona Posse types don't get more than 100 yards from the beer coolers in their pickups and thus are not much of a risk.

In most years January here is sunny eight days out of ten. Most days are in the 50's to 70's and nice and sunny; nights are cold (not by Fairbanks standards though); it can get as cold as 10F in higher locations at night and into the 20's in the desert lowlands.

There are occasional frontal winter storms that come into the area with rain or snow but these seldom last more than a few days and are not usually of the sort that keep you from hiking. I would not leave my rain gear behind.
_________________________
May I walk in beauty.

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#157022 - 11/08/11 09:38 PM Re: 1 month on the John Muir? [Re: Pika]
MPCWatkins Offline
member

Registered: 10/23/11
Posts: 40
Loc: Middle Georgia
Pika,

That's great information. I appreciate all of your well developed posts. One question, is there any other map than the one on the website? Is it worth spending the $30 on their map? I know they offer GPS as well, but I prefer the National Geographic maps over any other maps I've had experience with.


All the best
_________________________
"Brothers. What we do in life, echos in eternity."
-Maximus Decimus Meridius

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#157037 - 11/09/11 09:01 AM Re: 1 month on the John Muir? [Re: Pika]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
I have enjoyed the Mogollon Rim portion a few times, including once in winter. (My parents moved to Payson about 12 years ago, but unfortunately stopped backpacking). I am somewhat envious of anyone who can spend the time to do the whole or large portions of the AZ trail as I have to struggle to get more than a week at a time. Definitely a great winter trip to do !

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#157039 - 11/09/11 10:10 AM Re: 1 month on the John Muir? [Re: skcreidc]
MPCWatkins Offline
member

Registered: 10/23/11
Posts: 40
Loc: Middle Georgia
Skcreidc,

Glad to hear that you enjoyed your time on the trail. What's stopping you from coming out this December?! Haha!

In regards to my previous question, what map did you use? I'm having a hard time finding anything besides the the one on the trails website. If this is the only place to get a map, then I'll get it, but I would really much rather have the Nat. Geo. maps. I'm just worried that they will not have the updated trail included on them. I'm also worried about where to get GPS coordinates. Any feedback you can give me? What did you use?

All the best
_________________________
"Brothers. What we do in life, echos in eternity."
-Maximus Decimus Meridius

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#157065 - 11/09/11 01:52 PM Re: 1 month on the John Muir? [Re: MPCWatkins]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
Hmmmmmmmm. I have been thinking about this....but family comes first that time of year. So in part it depends on if Christmas is in Southern California or at Payson. Also, I could do only a portion of the trial with you at best. With the kids and all I am not sure how much time I could break away for.

Info wise...I am a USGS 7.5 min quad guy. When I went to the Mogollon Rim in late December, there was 1 to 2 feet of snow along much of the trial and was kinda cold. Even though I had been there before I had some troubles in the flatter terrain staying on trail. GPS would have been handy. My off-trail and compass skills are good though so it wasn't too much trouble.

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#157108 - 11/09/11 08:19 PM Re: 1 month on the John Muir? [Re: skcreidc]
intrek38 Offline
member

Registered: 11/29/03
Posts: 430
Loc: Hesperia, Calif
Sorry, I can't get this out of my head...
The South side of Forester Pass in the middle of Winter !!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmcpU_xvMTw&feature=related

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#157116 - 11/09/11 09:43 PM Re: 1 month on the John Muir? [Re: skcreidc]
MPCWatkins Offline
member

Registered: 10/23/11
Posts: 40
Loc: Middle Georgia
I understand. Well, I would love to have you out on the trail with me, even if it's only for a few days! Hopefully it will work out for you to come out!

Hmm ok. I'm going to call National Geographic's map service and see if they can help me out.

I'm planning to pack for snow and 0 degree temperatures. Question on that. I am looking to get the Mountain Hardware Phantom 0 bag, but am pulled towards the 15. Which would you guys recommend? The 0 is 75 dollars more and 13 oz's heavier than the 15. I figured it's worth the initial investment since It will fit me in more winter circumstances(Mountaineering, storms, etc). Am I over-exaggerating the temperature bag that I'm needing?
_________________________
"Brothers. What we do in life, echos in eternity."
-Maximus Decimus Meridius

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#157135 - 11/10/11 09:36 AM Re: 1 month on the John Muir? [Re: MPCWatkins]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1736
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
Like most of the folks that hike the AZ Trail, I use the USGS maps for the area. For planning, I prefer the 1:125,0000 scale and if I feel the need for more detail I will get the 7.5' sheets. Map expenses can mount up quickly if you get complete coverage of 300 miles of trail in the 7.5' maps; that is why I prefer those that cover a larger area. You can easily hike across a 7.5' map in less than a day. Here is the USGS map website, check it out.

usgsstore.usgs.gov

Unless you plan to do mostly cold weather camping, a 0 bag would be more of a liability than an asset. Sleeping, or trying to, in a 0 bag when the temperatures are in the mid 40's is hard. You would be better off buying a 15 bag and wearing clothes in it if it gets too cold if you only anticipate a few 0 days. I have done a lot of mountaineering, both summer and winter, in the western states and have seldom had need for my "Arctic" or 0 bag. On many occasions I have taken it on a trip and, as I lay in it, sweating, wished I had taken my lighter bag.

Buy a bag that will handle most of the conditions you anticipate, not the worst. And remember, sleeping bags come warm, light and cheap: you can choose two of the three in any bag.


Edited by Pika (11/10/11 09:38 AM)
_________________________
May I walk in beauty.

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#157151 - 11/10/11 01:17 PM Re: 1 month on the John Muir? [Re: Pika]
MPCWatkins Offline
member

Registered: 10/23/11
Posts: 40
Loc: Middle Georgia
Good to hear from you again Pika!

Thank you for posting the information on USGS. I looked at the USGS website, but am running into the problem of what USGS maps should I get? There are 5 different maps covering Arizona, and I don't know what map covers the beginning of the Arizona trail. Plus, the maps that I was looking at in the store were from the 70s and 80s. I think that might be too outdated for the Arizona Trail to be located on it. Is that something you could help me with?

As far as a sleeping bag goes, I'm going to go with the Phantom 15. With a silk liner, clothes, and a good tent, I'm sure that it would take me to or even below 0. I appreciate your wisdom on that, saved me some sweaty nights! Haha your anecdote on the "choose two out of the three" is incredibly insightful! Haha I laughed out loud in my perfectly silent library. Woops.

EDIT

Just wanted to add a quick update to my map situation. I was doing a bunch of research on Nat Geo maps as well as USGS maps, but couldn't find anything solid. I got the idea to call the local REI to see if they could recommend good maps, and lo and behold, one of the AZT board members works at the store! So, she's going to call me when she gets to the store and help me decide whether to get the official AZT.com map or look elsewhere. Will update with more info when I talk to her.

A quick note to any moderators that drop in. I realize this topic has gotten quite far from the John Muir trail, so if you feel like a renaming is in order, I totally support it. It would be more beneficial to name something more relevant to the AZT for those that are looking to do the AZT in the future. Just a thought.

All the best,
Mark


Edited by MPCWatkins (11/10/11 02:14 PM)
Edit Reason: Added info.
_________________________
"Brothers. What we do in life, echos in eternity."
-Maximus Decimus Meridius

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#157158 - 11/10/11 02:50 PM Re: 1 month on the John Muir? [Re: MPCWatkins]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Originally Posted By MPCWatkins

A quick note to any moderators that drop in. I realize this topic has gotten quite far from the John Muir trail, so if you feel like a renaming is in order, I totally support it. It would be more beneficial to name something more relevant to the AZT for those that are looking to do the AZT in the future. Just a thought.


I'm not renaming this - this is a fantastic thread when you asked something, Got the answer I certainly would have given you about traipsing through the high Sierras in the winter, and then got some great advice for something that will probably worth doing for you.

Heck pikas got *me* tempted to think about it.. Winter came too soon for me up here - I spent too much time travelling out of the country.

_________________________
Any fool can be uncomfortable...
My 3 season gear list
Winter list.
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#157160 - 11/10/11 03:36 PM Re: 1 month on the John Muir? [Re: MPCWatkins]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
MPCWatkins, are your expected travel dates still December 11th, 2011- January 7th, 2012? And you are set on doing the AZT or some portion thereof? If so I will see what I can do. If you can pull together some sort of itinerary, I have a better shot at plugging into some part of it for probably 5 days.


My window is probably going to be between Dec. 16th or 17th thru Jan. 2nd. Like I said, I will have to see what I can do. I should know better in a few days.

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#157169 - 11/10/11 06:58 PM Re: 1 month on the John Muir? [Re: phat]
MPCWatkins Offline
member

Registered: 10/23/11
Posts: 40
Loc: Middle Georgia
Well good! If this thread can dissuade others from attempting an ill thought out attempt at the Sierras than I'm happy!

Hey man, the trails big enough for two! You're more than welcome to join me on my hike. Would love to have ya! Check the post below for more info! By the way, where did you travel to that was out of the country?
_________________________
"Brothers. What we do in life, echos in eternity."
-Maximus Decimus Meridius

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#157172 - 11/10/11 07:31 PM Re: 1 month on the John Muir? [Re: skcreidc]
MPCWatkins Offline
member

Registered: 10/23/11
Posts: 40
Loc: Middle Georgia
Skcreidc,

Yes those are my travel dates. Let me give some more information of the development of maps, then I will talk dates with you.

After talking to Terri, the AZT representative that works at the Tucson REI, I've decided the best way to get maps specifically for the AZT is buying a membership on the trail's website. It offers two things that I couldn't find any where else.

1. The membership includes a guide book that lists water sources and food caches along the trail. It is published by the ones that made the trail, so, specifically for the AZT, it's the most accurate map out. The one downside to this is that you have to print these out yourself, so some laminating will be done on my part.

2. A membership comes with GPS for the ENTIRE trail. While I think it only covers the AZT, I could only find one other source of GPS and that was Nat Geo's $50 GPS of all of Arizona. While that may be better for Arizonian residents, I'm only doing the AZT, thus that's I went with. Plus the membership is $20 cheaper and comes with both GPS and paper guidebook.

So, Skcreidc, now that I have a good map source, I will begin typing my itinerary. I will most likely be done with it at some point this weekend. Too much schoolwork to justify dedicating my time to fun planning at the moment. Weekend will be much more relaxed. It will be up just as soon as I am done with it! I hope you are able to come, especially for 5 days! It would be fun to meet some of the people from the forum(<---This is a sly nudge to Pika and Phat to get out on the trail!)

A question on trail conditions will follow in another post. Trying to break things up so not to make you guys read a novella type post! Haha!
_________________________
"Brothers. What we do in life, echos in eternity."
-Maximus Decimus Meridius

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#157175 - 11/10/11 07:44 PM Re: 1 month on the John Muir? [Re: MPCWatkins]
MPCWatkins Offline
member

Registered: 10/23/11
Posts: 40
Loc: Middle Georgia
Wanted to follow up with you guys about the issue of snow on the trail. I was talking to Terri today and she said that she bailed on a trip due to snow. Since bailing would mean a bit more than canceling my last minute weekend trip, I want to know how to prepare for "bailout" conditions.

I'm thinking that the biggest issue of snow will be on top of the mountain passes, and since those are relatively short, I'm leaning towards just slogging through the snow rather than packing in snowshoes for a few days of trail where I might not even need them. What are your guy's thoughts on how to deal with the issue of snow?
_________________________
"Brothers. What we do in life, echos in eternity."
-Maximus Decimus Meridius

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#157189 - 11/10/11 11:48 PM Re: 1 month on the John Muir? [Re: MPCWatkins]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
This time of year you can get anything in the way of snow in Arizona. I will never forget the monumental storm of November 16, 1958, which dumped six inches of snow in Tucson. Let's just say there was a whole lot more up in the mountains; the only way you could move at all was on snowshoes or skis. That was extreme, but it looks like storms are cranking up now. We are getting a storm tomorrow (So. Cal) and I under stand another is scheduled for the 19th. These will hit Arizona about a day later. I would really pay attention to the weather forecast for your area.

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#157194 - 11/11/11 12:34 AM Re: 1 month on the John Muir? [Re: oldranger]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6401
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
The Pacific NW is to get hit with the remains of the great Alaskan storm (basically a hurricane with snow) this weekend. There will be lots of mountain snow, perhaps a foot above 3,000 feet elevation, starting tomorrow night. I don't know if this is the same storm you're getting down in CA, but I wouldn't be surprised!


Edited by OregonMouse (11/11/11 12:34 AM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#157208 - 11/11/11 08:11 AM Re: 1 month on the John Muir? [Re: OregonMouse]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
Interesting enough, it has just started to rain on my roof, about twelve hours ahead of schedule. My guess is that we are in for a wet/snowy winter.....

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#157209 - 11/11/11 08:30 AM Re: 1 month on the John Muir? [Re: oldranger]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1736
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
The forecast here is for a 30% to 50% chance of rain for Saturday through Tuesday in the area in which I live (elev 3400') and low temperatures of about 47F. I am sure that this forecast means snow at higher elevations. Daytime temperatures are forecast to be in the mid-70's which means daytime temps around 40 to 45 at 7000'. There will probably be some snow accumulation in the mountains. Next week, after Tuesday, is forecast to be sunny and mid-70's for highs and mid-40's for lows.

By all means, check the long range forecast before planning a trip here, especially one in the mountains. The 1958 storm that OldRanger mentions resulted in the death of three Boy Scouts in the Santa Rita Mountains. OldRanger was one of the search and rescue people who went looking for these unfortunate young men.
_________________________
May I walk in beauty.

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#157216 - 11/11/11 12:40 PM Re: 1 month on the John Muir? [Re: oldranger]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Got rain last night! which meant less need for the heater this morning - it has been really cold all week!

Since I am going out to walk in the Veteran's Day parade with my SAR team, this is great - I am allergic to freezing my toes off. goodjob Much better to need rain gear than to have cold toes.

I think you are right, it is going to be a wet and cold one this year... good for snowshoeing and skiing, and spring flowers!
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

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#157276 - 11/12/11 03:34 PM Re: 1 month on the John Muir? [Re: MPCWatkins]
MPCWatkins Offline
member

Registered: 10/23/11
Posts: 40
Loc: Middle Georgia
Well, the reality of it is this. If it snows, it snows. I'll be there either way. So, the thing to do is plan for how to get through it. I am sure I will encounter snow, and it very well may be over what would be easiest. I'm not worried about that. My question is what can I pack/plan/prepare myself to over come this obstacle.

Here is my clothing system currently.

Upper Body
Patagonia Capeline 2-Base Layer
North Face down Jacket-I do not have a link for this one. It is the liner of my snowboarding jacket. This will be my mid layer.
Atom LT- Outer Layer
REI Ultra Light Rain Jacket- Rain Jacket/Wind layer

Lower Body
Basic synthetic underwear(Breifs)-Base layer
Patagonia Capeline 3-Mid Layer
REI Sahara-Outer Layer for warm days/lower elevations
Soft Shell Snowboarding pants-Don't have link. Will use these for tramping through snow.

Feet
Regular wool socks-Warm/cool days
Snow Socks- Snow Tramping
Mammut Mt.Cascade GTX boot-Great 3-season boot

Accessories
Outdoor Research Peruvian fleece hat-Liked it because of the ear flaps.
Marmot Exum work glove- Best blend between warmth and dexterity
SmartWool Neck Gaiter(Baclava)- Name speaks for itself.

I believe with this clothing system I will be able to make it through the colder sections of the trail. If you've got any thoughts on how to improve this system, I would love the hear them!

Hopefully, I'll have my itinerary up by tomorrow evening. Keep an eye out!
_________________________
"Brothers. What we do in life, echos in eternity."
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#157277 - 11/12/11 04:39 PM Re: 1 month on the John Muir? [Re: MPCWatkins]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1736
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
Just bear in mind that there is no high elevation part of the southern Arizona mountains that is more than about 8 trail miles from lower, desert, elevations. You can usually walk out of the snow in 3-4 miles if you decide to bail. It may still be cold and wet lower down but I'm sure you are accustomed to that in Georgia. It can get icy on the trails so you will want some sort of traction appliance with you. And, usually, the snow is not deep enough along the AZ trail part of the mountains to stop you; I have never had to deal with more than ten inches in the ten years I have been hiking around here. You can get wet feet from it so have a spare pair of socks to change into at night. You can encounter some high winds. As I write this in my rural desert home, the wind is gusting to 30 mph outside. I am sure than it is closer to 50 mph in the mountains. Have a good wind proof top and bottom and consider something to cover your face such as a Balaclava. A pair of light fleece mittens would also be of use; mine weigh about an ounce and have kept my hands warm in some pretty miserable weather. The neck gaiter is a good idea. A tent is a better option than a tarp for the weather you might encounter; tents are better in wind.
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#157278 - 11/12/11 05:39 PM Re: 1 month on the John Muir? [Re: Pika]
MPCWatkins Offline
member

Registered: 10/23/11
Posts: 40
Loc: Middle Georgia
That is some AWESOME info Pika. Thank you for the input.

From the way that Terri(REI employee and AZTT Aid) pitched it, it seemed like I was going to do some crazy high altitude passes slogging through deep snow! I am quite used to cold and wet in Ga, so no worries there. Perhaps I will remove the Atom LT for this trip. I will have two pairs of regular socks, and one pair of the icebreakers(Which can potentially be worn as a regular sock), so that is covered.

As far as traction goes, I'm lacking a bit. I've got a Black Diamond Raven ice axe, but I would hate to carry that extra weight for a couple of sections. Maybe I could ship it, and pick it up before "danger" areas. The Mammut boots I linked in my list are made for snow and such. They have a fairly aggressive sole, so if I went with those instead of my Vasque Breeze I think they would deal nicely. What do you think? Stick with the Breeze's and bring the ice axe, or go with the Mammut's, potentially with the Ice Axe as well?

As far as wind goes, I'm mostly relying on my rain jacket and pants. They are very wind resistant(up to 60mph), so if it did get windy I could just throw them on. If it does get that windy I'll just bring out the neck Gaiter and pull it up over my face. Gloves will come out at the same time. I've got some lighter fleece types that I will use if my hands are getting just a little too cold.

Tent is a definite for me. I've got a REI Half-dome(The older, more boxy model) and it has stood up to some pretty severe winds. I camped with it on the edge of Linville gorge where the winds were pretty blowing hard. It did very well. Love that tent!
_________________________
"Brothers. What we do in life, echos in eternity."
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#157285 - 11/12/11 08:11 PM Re: 1 month on the John Muir? [Re: MPCWatkins]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
You might want to consider a pair of gaiters - very good for keeping deep snow out of your boots. I didn't see them on your list; if I missed them, I apologize.

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#157289 - 11/12/11 08:57 PM Re: 1 month on the John Muir? [Re: oldranger]
MPCWatkins Offline
member

Registered: 10/23/11
Posts: 40
Loc: Middle Georgia
No, you didn't miss them, I forgot to add them! Thanks for catching that!
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"Brothers. What we do in life, echos in eternity."
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#157376 - 11/14/11 09:31 AM Re: 1 month on the John Muir? [Re: MPCWatkins]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
MPCWatkins...Still keeping an eye on this thread. I also have been digging up info on the trail myself to see where I might meet up with you. If it works out, I probably have my local ride in and out already set up.

sK

The gaiters are good for more than snow...definitely bring a pair.

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#157641 - 11/18/11 10:45 AM Re: 1 month on the John Muir? [Re: skcreidc]
MPCWatkins Offline
member

Registered: 10/23/11
Posts: 40
Loc: Middle Georgia
skreidc,

I know I've missed my own deadline to put in my trip itinerary, but school is on the upturn both with Thanksgiving holiday being next week and end of the semester/finals coming. I'm flying to Europe later this evening, so I'm sure I'll be able to nail down my full trip outline. I'm glad to hear that you are still interested in coming out. That'll be fun!

I do know that I will be starting from the Mexican border and stopping at Oracle, a total of 204 miles. That would mean an average of 10 miles a day with 3 rest days, and 1 day for cushion. My first day of hiking will be on December 13th, and last day on January 4th. Starting and ending on those days will give me three days travel time each way.

Gaiters are a must for me. They're part of my gear no matter what.
_________________________
"Brothers. What we do in life, echos in eternity."
-Maximus Decimus Meridius

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#157713 - 11/21/11 06:03 PM Re: 1 month on the John Muir? [Re: MPCWatkins]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
No worries! School comes first for you...I understand. When I was back in college I pulled some pretty heavy trips together in about 2 days. It was sort of, Hey! I have the time to do this...so lets go! But for this kind of trip, you need to more organized than that. I'm thinking if I make it, it will be for the Superstition Mountains section. Would like to get an overview of that area so I can know where to go in spring for the bloom.

Good luck with the studies and planning!

sK

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#157715 - 11/21/11 06:08 PM Re: 1 month on the John Muir? [Re: skcreidc]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
The Supes are great in February and March, especially if it is a wet winter. You will have an amazing amount of water.


Edited by oldranger (11/21/11 06:09 PM)

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#157722 - 11/21/11 08:14 PM JMT in Winter? Or Arizona Trail? [Re: oldranger]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6401
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
While the consensus was not to try to split this thread, I did take the liberty of editing the original title so that both topics addressed here are included in the thread title. I hope that's OK with the OP!

This thread is becoming an excellent repository for info on the Arizona Trail, and I'd hate to see it ignored because it isn't in the title! On the other hand, the info on the JMT in winter is also important!


Edited by OregonMouse (11/21/11 08:18 PM)
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#157761 - 11/22/11 09:47 PM Re: JMT in Winter? Or Arizona Trail? [Re: OregonMouse]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Here is a great account of a winter JMT trip on skis. These people were expert winter ski mountaineers and it was still ridiculously dangerous. FYI, if you don't know, Doug Robinson and Galen Rowell, who are mentioned in the first paragraph were legendary climbers in Yosemite. Rowell was a renowned photographer who was killed in a plane crash a few years ago.

http://www.jamesalutz.com/index_JMT1.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galen_Rowell




Edited by TomD (11/22/11 09:58 PM)
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#157766 - 11/23/11 08:59 AM Re: JMT in Winter? Or Arizona Trail? [Re: TomD]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
Excellent post Tom! THAT's what I call an epic 16 day adventure. And with my ski skills, one that I will never do. Doug Robinson still is a legend and still somewhat active (and therefore another source of inspiration for me to keep doing things), RIP Galen Rowell.

Old Ranger, my intent is to hit the Superstitions in spring to see the bloom some year...maybe this coming spring. I have heard it is really something to see.

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#157770 - 11/23/11 12:50 PM Re: JMT in Winter? Or Arizona Trail? [Re: MPCWatkins]
MPCWatkins Offline
member

Registered: 10/23/11
Posts: 40
Loc: Middle Georgia
Hey all,
Just wanted to chime in quickly while I had access to the internet.

I think everyone will be happy to know that my outline is done. I was only able to plan up to passage 10(The section that takes you 15m E from Tuscon) since the AZT website has a gap in the guide book from passage 10-20something. I will post the outline in a seperate reply when I have a little more time to type it up. Should be later tonight.

As far as renaming the thread, that is perfectly fine with me. The more people that this thread helps out, the happier I am!

Skredic, some bad news. I don't think that I am going to make it to the Superstition Mountains section. I'm not exactly familiar with where/what section you mean, but on the AZT the only mention of anything Superstitious is after Oracle. Maybe I'm thinking of a different section than you are?
Hopefully it will work out.

Also. I was talking with my Brother and Sister and they said that a 15 degree bag is in no way sufficent for this trip. My brother reccomended I take his -30 degree bag, but I declined telling them flatly that they were wrong. Since then I've had a small seed of doubt growing about how cold a 15 degree bag can take me. I had thought a 15 degree bag plus clothes would take me down to 0? Am I wrong? Can I get everyones thoughts on this?
_________________________
"Brothers. What we do in life, echos in eternity."
-Maximus Decimus Meridius

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#157775 - 11/23/11 02:35 PM Re: JMT in Winter? Or Arizona Trail? [Re: MPCWatkins]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
It depends. What do you mean by "clothes"? I have a -5C (+23F) rated bag and that rating is very accurate for me. I can use it down into the low teens by wearing my Capilene base layer (old Patagonia midweight), socks, liner gloves and a fleece hat, and my overbag (MEC Emperor Penguin) and bivy sack (BD Winter Bivy, which is just a very light bivy).

Without the overbag, I will toss my parka on top and that seems to work about as well. HOWEVER, that parka, which I am wearing in my avatar photo, is a TNF Baltoro down parka that is almost as heavy as my bag. It is designed for subzero weather. Plus, I have insulated pants as well, which I could wear in my bag if it got really cold. With everything on, I could probably sleep quite warmly in zero or even slightly lower temps.

So, the bottom line is unless you take clothes for very cold weather, being comfortable down to zero in a +15F bag may not be a realistic expectation.


Edited by TomD (11/23/11 02:44 PM)
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#157777 - 11/23/11 04:18 PM Re: JMT in Winter? Or Arizona Trail? [Re: MPCWatkins]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1736
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
Here is a web site for Summerhaven, AZ. This is a small village located at about 8,000 feet in the Santa Catalina Mountains. The trail goes right through the village if I recall correctly. This is also about the high point of the trail until it reaches the Mogollion Rim country further north.

http://www.pocomas.net/weather/almanac.htm

As you can see, it can get cold in the Arizona mountains but, frankly, for the amount of time you will be spending at 8,000' a -30 bag would be massive overkill. All of this presumes that you have a true 15F sleeping bag and not one made by an optimistic, high-metabolism manufacturer. Mostly you will see temperatures in the teens and low twenties at night. For those few nights when it might be colder than that you can either put on all your clothes and possibly shiver a bit, or seek a lower elevation. Most of the southern AZ trail is between 3500' and 6,000 feet.

The Superstition Mountains are well north of Oracle. They lie just about due east of Phoenix and are well worth another trip. The hike between the Superstition Mountains and the Mazatzal Mountains is a part of the AZ trail I hope to explore someday.
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#157779 - 11/23/11 06:21 PM Trip Outline [Re: MPCWatkins]
MPCWatkins Offline
member

Registered: 10/23/11
Posts: 40
Loc: Middle Georgia
Here it is! The legendary trail outline I've been talking about for so long. I was only able to get to day 17 out of 24 since the guide book only goes to Passage 10. When I return home I will see if I can pull info from the data book to figure out what that next week will look like. Chime in with your thoughts. I'm glad to hear them. Oh, and if a day is bolded then it means rest/resupply day. The first number at the end of every day is the mileage for that day, and the second is the overall mileage. Chime in with any further questions. Look forward to hearing from everyone. All the best.



Dec 13(Day 1)- Tag Mexican Border(1.9m), turn around, camp at Bear Saddle/Bear Canyon TJ(Camp;W3 .5mS)(9.8)
Dec 14(Day 2)- Bear Saddle/Bear Canyon TJ-> /FR48(Seasonal store/water at Parker Canyon Lake)(10.9m)(20.7)
Dec 15(Day 3)- FR48->Middle Canyon(W1)(11.5)(32.2)
Dec 16(Day 4)- Middle Canyon->Gate Spring(W2-3 .06mS)(12.3)(44.5)
Dec 17(Day 5)- Gate Spring->Patagonia(Town Day)(6.6)(52.8)
~Resupply Food,Water,Butane(Care package)
Post Ofice-100 N. Taylor Ave., P.O 9988
Dec 18(Day 6)-Patagonia->Anaconda Spring(w1, Spring/Seep;Small creeks)(~9.5)(~62.3)
Dec 19(Day 7)-Anaconda Spring->Tunnels Spring Trailhead(W1;T2)(9.9)(72.2)(Might summit Mt.Wrightson. Will make the decision when I can assess the situation)
Dec 20(Day 8)- Tunnel Spring Trailhead->Kentucky Camp(W3-4, Shelter)(6.6)(78.8)
Dec 21(Day 9)- Kentucky Camp->End Of passage 5(W0-1)(9.8)(88.6)
Dec 22(Day 10)- End of Passage 5->Join Road(10.9)(99.5)
(Depending oon Water, may go to Lakes Road: W2-3, 1.25mW)(101.6)
Dec 23(Day 11)Join Road/Lakes Road->Road Jct.(9.2)(110.8)
Dec 24(Day 14)- Road Jct.->La Posta Quemada Ranch(7.1)(117.9)
Dec 25(Day 13)- Walk to Colossal Cave Mountain Park(5m there and back)(Refill food, fuel, water from care package)
Dec 26(Day 14)- La Posta Quemada Park->Rincon Creek(w1)9.1)(12.7)
Dec 27(Day 15)- Rincon Creek-> Manning Camp(W4, Camp)(13.8)(140.8)
Dec 28(Day 16)- Manning Camp-> Italian Trap(T4)8.8)(149.6
Dec 29(Day 17)- Italian Trap-> West Spring Cistern
_________________________
"Brothers. What we do in life, echos in eternity."
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#157781 - 11/23/11 06:41 PM Re: JMT in Winter? Or Arizona Trail? [Re: Pika]
MPCWatkins Offline
member

Registered: 10/23/11
Posts: 40
Loc: Middle Georgia
Thanks for your thoughts Tom! HAha I'm glad you mentioned that behomoth of a jacket in your picture! To be honest though, I though you were going to tell me that you were wearing your sleeping bag! I think that I will have sufficent clothes to get me down to zero. If you look back in the thread(Page 3) you can have a look at my clothing system to see if you agree. I may nix the Atom for this trip. May be overkill. Not sure just yet.

Pika!

It is very good to hear from you again! I was hoping that you would chime back in! I will take a look at Summerhaven. That may end up being a crucial resupply point. I think you are correct. I am comfprtable again with my 15 degree bag. Thankfully it is a Mountain Harware Phantom, thus I feel comforted that if MTN Hardware calls it 15, then it sure will be. Yes, I was sad to see that I wasn't able to do that section this trip. I will most definitley be looking at making a second trip to finish off the remaining trail. I would love to go further than Oracle, but there wasn't a town that I could find that I could imagine my self finding a ride back from.

Pika, I'm staying on you about coming out and doing a section of the trail with me. I have really appreciated you advice, and to be honest, without it, I wouldn't be going on this trip. I'd really like to be able to meet you. I think it could be alot of fun, and a great opportunity for me to learn from a more experienced hiker. I realize it's a tough time with the holidays, but I thought I would atleast let you know that I was looking forward to the chance of meeting you out there. Hope all is well.
_________________________
"Brothers. What we do in life, echos in eternity."
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#157785 - 11/23/11 11:56 PM Re: JMT in Winter? Or Arizona Trail? [Re: MPCWatkins]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Your list is similar to mine, except I have the parka and pants added to it. I'm sure my parka is warmer than yours and my pants would be too-they were made by Go-Lite a few years ago, but were discontinued. I also have a fleece balaclava, a fleece watch cap (beanie), a couple of pairs of gloves. I plan to buy a pair of expedition mitts of some sort, maybe a BD or Marmot-REI sells several different ones.

However, these may be the ultimate cold weather mitt-
http://www.empirecanvasworks.com/thebigmitt.htm


Edited by TomD (11/24/11 12:07 AM)
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#157794 - 11/24/11 02:13 PM Re: JMT in Winter? Or Arizona Trail? [Re: MPCWatkins]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1736
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
MPCW please check your PM's.
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#157807 - 11/25/11 01:50 AM Re: JMT in Winter? Or Arizona Trail? [Re: TomD]
Heather-ak Offline
member

Registered: 07/11/10
Posts: 597
Loc: Fairbanks, AK
I have a pair of the PT300 Double Mitts with a set of overmits, which have been very nice. I only use the overmits while snowmachining - the double mitts by them selves are good to -30s (proven last two weeks here.)

http://www.akgear.com/hats-mitts.html#anchor722902

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#157840 - 11/26/11 10:53 AM Re: Trip Outline [Re: MPCWatkins]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
So that's your schedule and your sticking with it? When I get home I will check it out and see what I can pull off.

The Superstition Mtn section is east of Phoenix....check out the attached map. I am also thinking about the parts north like Four Peaks and south of the Mogollon rim.

Arizona trail map


Edited by skcreidc (11/26/11 11:42 AM)

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#157849 - 11/26/11 03:30 PM Re: 1 month on the John Muir? [Re: Pika]
twinmike Offline
member

Registered: 03/25/11
Posts: 43
Loc: Holbrook, AZ.
This looks like a really great hike, will you be doing this trail any time soon.
Originally Posted By Pika
No, you are wise, not a sissy. smile

If you are interested in winter hiking, you may want to look at the southern half of the Arizona Trail: Winter is the preferred time of the year to hike this section. The full trail goes from Coronado National Monument on the Mexican border to Utah near Knabb. At present, the trail is nearly 800 miles long and parts of it are along old jeep roads. The southern Arizona part of the trail is largely upland desert although it also traverses the Huachuca Mountains, The Patagonia Mountains, the eastern Santa Rita Mountains, the Rincon Mountains and the Santa Catalina Mountains. If you hike at night you will share the trail with a few undocumented immigrants. You can easily hike 300 miles of the trail in winter and only occasionally have to route find on snow-covered trail. Water is usually available along the trail in winter but not in summer or fall. Once the trail reaches the Mogollion Rim, it is continuously above 7000'; it is snowing there as I write this. A GPS would be useful for much of the southern Arizona part of the trail; there are parts that are not yet well mapped. Check out the web sites listed below.

Three season gear would be quite adequate for winter on the southern Arizona trail if you have a sleeping bag good to about 10 to 15F.

http://www.greatoutdoors.com/published/hiking-the-arizona-trail

http://www.aztrail.org/
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#157860 - 11/27/11 03:26 AM Re: 1 month on the John Muir? [Re: twinmike]
MPCWatkins Offline
member

Registered: 10/23/11
Posts: 40
Loc: Middle Georgia
Yes. I leave in 12 days to fly out to Tucson. If you read through the thread you can find out all the information you would want on my trip.

As everyone is, you're welcome to come out and join me for a few days if you're interested.
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"Brothers. What we do in life, echos in eternity."
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#157861 - 11/27/11 03:59 AM Re: Trip Outline [Re: skcreidc]
MPCWatkins Offline
member

Registered: 10/23/11
Posts: 40
Loc: Middle Georgia
Skcreidc,

Not so much that I won't change but there isn't much room to change. I don't have a guide book for the Northern sections of the trail(AZT website is missing those sections), and I would like to be able to start from the beginning.

I took a look at the map. I won't be doing anything north of Oracle since it would mean hiking up towards 15 miles a day. Thats too much for me, especially on my first long distance trip. I tried to attach a map of the section that I am doing, but it's too big and I don't have time to make it work right now. If you look at the map, it's the first twist to the right after Tucson. Basically, if you look at it, I'll be going about 30-40 miles past Tucson. If you can find something in there that you would be interested in joining me on, then that would work nicely. Let me know
_________________________
"Brothers. What we do in life, echos in eternity."
-Maximus Decimus Meridius

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#157871 - 11/27/11 12:42 PM Re: Trip Outline [Re: MPCWatkins]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
Well, I just spent 2 hours trying to figure out where and when on your itinerary (as well as donated to the AZT Association. grin) So maybe I am 70% of the way there.

I think you would like me to join you at Rincon Creek for the huff over the Rincon Mountains? Maybe this would be from Dec 26 to Dec 30? Let me now if that is what you have in mind.

Any of these areas would be great to go through...just getting out and exploring new territory is fun. I also need to find out if this section is "dog friendly". You're not allergic to dogs are ya?

I think having different people connect up with you on different sections could be a pretty nice way of doing a route like this...

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#157874 - 11/27/11 02:09 PM Re: Trip Outline [Re: skcreidc]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1736
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
Much of the section through the Rincon Mountains is in Saguaro National Park. As I'm sure you are aware, dogs are not welcome in National Parks.
_________________________
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#157876 - 11/27/11 02:16 PM Re: Trip Outline [Re: Pika]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
Ouch! Thanks Pika. I was not able to easily read the section map I downloaded and I could not tell if that was national park or not. I need to dig up a better map of Arizona so I can see what is where (Park vs wilderness ect.)

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#158025 - 11/29/11 04:54 PM Re: Trip Outline [Re: skcreidc]
MPCWatkins Offline
member

Registered: 10/23/11
Posts: 40
Loc: Middle Georgia
Skcreidc,

Just wanted to get on quickly and confirm that I have seen your post and am looking at sections that would be fun to do together and are also dog friendly. Thankfully, I'm not allergic to dogs, I actually happen to love them! I would be great to have your dog along with us! Wish I had one of my own to keep me company!

As I have said before, school workload is on the severe upturn. This is the last week before finals, so there is much to be done on my end. I will do my best to get the information to you as soon as possible.

Pika,

As always, thank you for your advice.

All the best
_________________________
"Brothers. What we do in life, echos in eternity."
-Maximus Decimus Meridius

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#158173 - 12/02/11 12:17 AM Re: Trip Outline [Re: skcreidc]
MPCWatkins Offline
member

Registered: 10/23/11
Posts: 40
Loc: Middle Georgia
Skcredic,

I've been looking at the Data book for alternatives to the Rincon mountain pass.

There is only two other mountain passes that I cross on this segment of the trail. The first is at the very beginning, the Huachuca Mountains Dec. 13-Dec. 15. These are in the Coronado National Park which allows dogs in area limited areas of the park. I'm pretty sure that the section that I'd planned on doing is dog friendly, but I could find any empirical evidence. A phone call to them would probably be best. (520) 388-8300

The second mountain pass is over the Rincon mountains which, I believe, are in the Wilderness of Rock trail jct. I propose you join me for that one and meet me somewhere Tucson and hike to the end with me. That would be 4 days and, depending on where you meet me, 47 miles. Pretty big days I know.

Let me know the your thoughts on what I have here, and we can talk more about details if it is feasible for you to do this section with me. Look forward to hearing from you.

All the best
_________________________
"Brothers. What we do in life, echos in eternity."
-Maximus Decimus Meridius

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#158180 - 12/02/11 09:28 AM Re: Trip Outline [Re: MPCWatkins]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
MPCWatkins, I sent you a PM.


sK

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#158272 - 12/04/11 09:09 PM Re: 1 month on the John Muir? [Re: twinmike]
twinmike Offline
member

Registered: 03/25/11
Posts: 43
Loc: Holbrook, AZ.
Do you have a blog or web page? I would like to keep track of your journey, Snowshoeing in deep snow can burn 500 calories more than normal than on hard surface, there has been 30 inches of snow i on that trail in the past two weeks, How far do you plan on walking each day?
_________________________
Many reach for distant shores only to run to the safest harbor.

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#158314 - 12/06/11 08:15 AM Re: Trip Outline [Re: MPCWatkins]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1736
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
Mark, here is an update on the weather here in SE AZ as of Dec. 6, 2011. We have had a series of storms move through the area that have left snow at elevations above about 4500'. Right now it is cold; low temp last night at my place (3200') was about 26F and was about 20F at a friends place in the Whetstone Mountains (4500'). There is a gradual warming trend projected and daytime temperatures at Tucson International Airport are projected to be about 65 and nights around 33 at the time you will be arriving. I don't think that too much snow will be melting off above 6000' but it should be consolidating some in the daytime. Your two worst passages should be: over the Rincon Mountains, Manning Camp is at 8000'; and over the Santa Catalina Mountains, Summerhaven and the upper part of Oracle Ridge are also about 8000'. But, unless we get another storm soon you should have cool days and chilly nights for your hike. You should arrive here prepared for route finding and some icy and snow-covered stretches of trail. And, BTW, bring your long-johns smile .
_________________________
May I walk in beauty.

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#158316 - 12/06/11 08:39 AM Re: 1 month on the John Muir? [Re: twinmike]
MPCWatkins Offline
member

Registered: 10/23/11
Posts: 40
Loc: Middle Georgia
twinmike,
Yes I do, but as of right now it is severely outdated. This is mostly due to the fact that is more of a personal "journal" that I keep. If you plan to have a look at it, I'll toss in some quick updates about everything.

acalltothewild.blogspot.com

As far as updating on the trail, occasions where I will have wifi/enough cell service to use the internet will be few and far between. I will make it a point to update every chance that I get.

As far as Snowshoeing goes, I don't have snow shoes. Do I need them? Can I just get through it with out? Won't be quite as fun, but it would save me a lot of weight. Plan is 10 miles, but I've got breathing room. Looks like it's gearing up to be a fun Winter season!!
_________________________
"Brothers. What we do in life, echos in eternity."
-Maximus Decimus Meridius

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#158317 - 12/06/11 08:49 AM Re: Trip Outline [Re: Pika]
MPCWatkins Offline
member

Registered: 10/23/11
Posts: 40
Loc: Middle Georgia
Pika,
Good info! I'm prepared for all of those temperatures, route finding(Just got my GPS today!) and snow/ice sections of the trail. This just makes this a bit more interesting. As of right now, I'm not bringing an ice axe nor am I bringing a snow shows. Please, voice your opinions on this. I would love to hear what you have to say. Is this a fatal mistake, or can I get by? Would love to make an informed decision.

Haha I'll bring that, and a well developed wish that I'd gone with the 0 degree bag instead of my 15!!
_________________________
"Brothers. What we do in life, echos in eternity."
-Maximus Decimus Meridius

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#158318 - 12/06/11 09:13 AM Re: Trip Outline [Re: MPCWatkins]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
Pika and MPCWatkins, I was thinking crampons or something like yaktrax (or some other kind of "traction on ice" device) would be more useful than snowshoes. Unless it was immediately after another dump of snow...Long range weather seems to be gearing up for relatively nice but cool weather in that area?

sK

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#158319 - 12/06/11 09:23 AM Re: Trip Outline [Re: skcreidc]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
Pika,

I am thinking that even this time of year, MPCWatkins needs to be prepared to carry somewhere between 2 to 4 liters of water for potential dry camps. What would you suggest?

Also, for the higher elevations, AS LONG AS IT LOOKS LIKE NO NEW SNOW, I am thinking that only traction devices for the shoes are needed? Do you need an ice axe for these sections? Or can you just use snowshoe/hiking poles.

sK


Edited by skcreidc (12/06/11 09:29 AM)

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#158320 - 12/06/11 09:41 AM Re: Trip Outline [Re: skcreidc]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1736
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
I almost always carry at least 2 liters of water when I am hiking in this part of Arizona. Along the Arizona Trail, two liters should get you to the next reliable water unless you are hiking in the hot part of the year; not a concern right now. With two liters, you might get there thirsty but you will get there.

In my experience, icy trails are the major winter concern. Some parts of the trail will traverse steep, icy, north-facing slopes; snowshoes aren't much help in these places but traction devices such as Yak Tracks or instep crampons are really comforting. I doubt that you will encounter too much unconsolidated snow that is more than shin deep, walking that stuff is not much more work than is driving a pair of snowshoes IMO. The only place where I think snowshoes might help would be the stretch between Manning Camp and Italy Spring, in the Rincons, and in the Santa Catilina Mts. around Summerhaven.

Added later.
I don't think an ice axe would be much help. You shouldn't be in places where you need to cut steps or do self arrests. I used to carry an ice axe and unless I was actually climbing on steep ice and snow I used it mainly for balance; hiking poles will serve the same purpose. Hiking poles and traction devices would be the better bet.


Edited by Pika (12/06/11 10:25 AM)
_________________________
May I walk in beauty.

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#158329 - 12/06/11 12:18 PM Re: Trip Outline [Re: Pika]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
Thanks for the rapid response Pika. Much appreciated.

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#158345 - 12/06/11 03:04 PM Re: Trip Outline [Re: MPCWatkins]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1736
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
I just returned from a trip into Tucson and had a chance to check out the snow levels on the Santa Catalina and Rincon Mountains. On the south- and west-facing slopes, the snow has melted off, mostly, to about the 6500'-7000' level and will probably continue to melt. On the north facing slopes of the Santa Rita Mountains, the snow level is lower, a bit below Josephine Saddle which is about 7000'. So, unless there is a major change in the weather, you won't have too much deep snow to deal with. That doesn't mean you won't run into icy patches of trail but I doubt that you'll be wading through waist deep fluff either.
_________________________
May I walk in beauty.

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#158355 - 12/06/11 07:32 PM Re: Trip Outline [Re: Pika]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
As I remember it,that stretch from the summit Mica Mountain to Italian Spring is a real refrigerator, definitely a nice stretch of trail.....

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#158379 - 12/07/11 02:37 AM Re: Trip Outline [Re: Pika]
MPCWatkins Offline
member

Registered: 10/23/11
Posts: 40
Loc: Middle Georgia
Have just ordered some low-profile crampons. Check em' out! Went with Crampons instead of yak traxs or microspikes becuase of the added versatility they will give me in future mountaineering. While they're not for vertical ice climbing, they will give me more leeway than the other options. From what I read, yak traks and microspikes are really only good for flat hiking, essentially glacier travel. I'm of course open to suggestions. Not to late to cancel my order!

Pika, as always, thank you for the advice. Just to clarify, the Santa Catalinas are the first mountain range that I will cross, correct?

I don't have hiking poles, and I really don't like hiking with them. To me, they're a nuisance. I like the option of having my hands free while I walk. I hook my thumbs in my pack or a loop on my pack when I want them "stowed". I'd much rather pick up a stick and hike with that since I can always throw it away when I'm tired of it. I'm willing to be persuaded though. Any big reason why I should change my mind?

Skcreidc, sounds like you picked a great section to join me on! Should be fun! Looking forward to it!


Edited by MPCWatkins (12/07/11 02:48 AM)
_________________________
"Brothers. What we do in life, echos in eternity."
-Maximus Decimus Meridius

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#158383 - 12/07/11 07:26 AM Re: Trip Outline [Re: MPCWatkins]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
You will cross the Rincons before you come to the Catalinas. It is a fairly noticeable uphill pull to Mica Mountain and Manning Camp - my old stomping ground.

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#158384 - 12/07/11 08:47 AM Re: Trip Outline [Re: oldranger]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1736
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
Yeah, like OR says, it is a fair uphill pull from Rincon Creek to Manning Camp and then a bit more of a climb to cross the range just east of Mica Mountain. There is a junction there with a spur trail that will take you to the summit of Mica Mt., the high point in the Rincons. From the junction, is is downhill to Italy Spring. I suspect that you will be hiking on, or around, snow from below Manning Camp to near Italy Spring. You will be hiking through some beautiful pine forests in this section of the trail though. Italy Spring is on a generally north-facing slope and can be snowy.

I don't like trekking poles either but got so accustomed to carrying an ice axe in one hand in the old days that I now carry a single, collapsible trekking pole and like it a lot. The thing I like is the sharp, grippy, carbide tip that holds well on ice and wet rock. I just collapse the pole and carry it on my pack if I don't need/want it. The one I have is made by Leki and has a handle like that of a cane; seems somehow appropriate for someone my age.
_________________________
May I walk in beauty.

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#158386 - 12/07/11 09:16 AM Re: Trip Outline [Re: oldranger]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
Old ranger, you sure have that right! My first day will be Rincon Creek to Manning camp. A nice little loosening up stretch of over 13 miles. Should go through a few ecosystems in that climb I think. Never been to Saguaro National Park before...should be good!

I've been told the microspikes are pretty good. Maybe not as durable as they could be. I'm getting a pair for my wife for hiking up Tahquitz and Suicide Rock this winter. The thing about crampons is that you need to store them in such a way that they don't tear holes in the rest of your stuff. Whereas Yaktrax store easily and are lighter.

I'm bringing poles if I get a whiff of it being pretty icy up there. As I am spending Christmas near Payson and will get up to the rim, I should have a good idea.

sK

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#158393 - 12/07/11 01:31 PM Re: JMT in Winter? Or Arizona Trail? [Re: MPCWatkins]
MPCWatkins Offline
member

Registered: 10/23/11
Posts: 40
Loc: Middle Georgia
This is getting really good! Im starting to get pretty excited. Makes it hard to study! Haha.

Ok. Glad to hear Im not the only one who doesnt like them. I definitely see the benefit, and Im sure it has saved some people some bad falls, but for me Im just not interested. I could bring the one collapsable one you mentioned Pika, but I probably wont. I would never use it. Would just be extraneous weight.

How much of the AZT have you actually hiked Pika? I didn't know you knew so much of it.

Yeah, I took another look, and microspikes do seem like a pretty good option for just regular ice walking. Yak trax still seem seem pretty weak though. With only that one strap,Look like they could slip off at a moments notice.
_________________________
"Brothers. What we do in life, echos in eternity."
-Maximus Decimus Meridius

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#158396 - 12/07/11 02:24 PM Re: JMT in Winter? Or Arizona Trail? [Re: MPCWatkins]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
Kick butt in school and make sure you bring a camera!

sK

PS I prefer the reliability of crampons myself. My wife doesn't go on icy conditions much.


Edited by skcreidc (12/07/11 02:26 PM)
Edit Reason: added ps

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#158434 - 12/08/11 02:27 AM Re: JMT in Winter? Or Arizona Trail? [Re: MPCWatkins]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
If it is steep and icy enough for crampons, then I would want to carry an ice axe and know how to use it to self arrest. If you either don't have one or have one and don't know how to use it and you fall on something steep, you could find yourself in big trouble in about 3 seconds. I took a mountaineering class many moons ago, so my practical skills are pretty much nil at this point, but I do remember how quickly you pick up speed when you fall., especially with a pack on.

Another thing, if you do fall and try to stop yourself with your crampons as you slide, you could find yourself cartwheeling down the hill and risk breaking an ankle.
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

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#158437 - 12/08/11 07:04 AM Re: JMT in Winter? Or Arizona Trail? [Re: TomD]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
I think you comments are right on, and absolutely correct. However, I have a lot of experience on the specific trails the OP will be traveling in the Catalinas and Rincons when they were snowed in, and, oddly enough, an ice axe is seldom, if ever, necessary. On the other hand, ski or hiking poles, with baskets, will come in handy. Although they may be superfluous at times on the trail, I'll bet they will be welcome when in deep snow.

The typical trail in those ranges cuts through heavily forested or brushy conditions. Cartwheeling is an unlikely event. Besides, it is strictly against NPS policy guidelines.


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#158500 - 12/08/11 08:32 PM Re: JMT in Winter? Or Arizona Trail? [Re: oldranger]
MPCWatkins Offline
member

Registered: 10/23/11
Posts: 40
Loc: Middle Georgia
I also agree. Ice axe and self arrest seem to be near when crampons are also used.

Thankfully, we have guys like old ranger that know the trails well enough to say an ice axe might be a bit overkill. My argument against ski poles is the same as my argument against hiking poles(if there is even a difference). When I do need them I'll either tough it out, or find a stick to use. I really enjoy having my hands free when I hike.

On another note, wanted to run my food plan by you guys.
Breakfast-oatmeal, dried fruit, brown sugar
Lunch-granola, dried fruit, dried sausage, beef jerkey
Dinner-ramen, pita, cheese, sausage, tuna
Snacks-nuts, power bars, snicker bars

This is pretty general, I have specific brands I like, but I never know if I'll be able to find them at the various grocery stores. Feel free to make suggestions
_________________________
"Brothers. What we do in life, echos in eternity."
-Maximus Decimus Meridius

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#158574 - 12/10/11 02:50 PM Re: JMT in Winter? Or Arizona Trail? [Re: oldranger]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
I'm a big fan of trekking poles. Haven't used them for much except with snowshoes or skis (with baskets), but they have prevented me from falling over a few times. My self-arrest training was on fairly steep snow in NZ with a big run off and after being shown what to do, we would basically toss ourselves down the hill and try to stop within a short distance. If the terrain is flatter, then not so much of a problem, obviously, but falling over with a big pack on, as I did a couple of times in Yosemite in soft snow on one trip, it was a real hassle to get back up, even with poles.

Even here in So Cal where it does get snow and ice in the mountains, there has been at least one accident where a hiker fell off a trail when she slipped on something-probably ice, but that was undetermined. Unfortunately, she was dead by the time SAR found her. I think she was training for a cross-country run, so she had no poles or traction devices on her shoes.
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

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#158580 - 12/10/11 10:40 PM Re: JMT in Winter? Or Arizona Trail? [Re: TomD]
MPCWatkins Offline
member

Registered: 10/23/11
Posts: 40
Loc: Middle Georgia
Haha, Tom. Someday, I hope we get on a trail together, intentional or accidental. Although, the latter would make it even more sweet. You seem like the guy that has stories that go on just about all night. We should look into getting together.
_________________________
"Brothers. What we do in life, echos in eternity."
-Maximus Decimus Meridius

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#158582 - 12/11/11 01:58 AM Re: JMT in Winter? Or Arizona Trail? [Re: MPCWatkins]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Yeah, I have a few. If you get out to CA, be sure to let me know.
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

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#158666 - 12/13/11 02:08 PM Re: JMT in Winter? Or Arizona Trail? [Re: MPCWatkins]
MPCWatkins Offline
member

Registered: 10/23/11
Posts: 40
Loc: Middle Georgia
Hey all,

Just wanted to post one last time before I head out on the trail.

Thanks to everyone that chimed in and offered advice. This trip wouldn't be possible without you guys. Special thank you to Pika for all his sage wisdom. It's great that it's actually happening!

If you'd like to follow my trek, I'll be posting as often as possible on my blog.
Click here for blog

See everyone in 24 days

All the best,
Mark
_________________________
"Brothers. What we do in life, echos in eternity."
-Maximus Decimus Meridius

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#158671 - 12/13/11 03:19 PM Re: JMT in Winter? Or Arizona Trail? [Re: MPCWatkins]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
Good. I forgot to ask him for that! grin

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#158872 - 12/17/11 05:01 PM Re: JMT in Winter? Or Arizona Trail? [Re: MPCWatkins]
MPCWatkins Offline
member

Registered: 10/23/11
Posts: 40
Loc: Middle Georgia
Hello everyone!

It is day 5 of my trip, and I have arrived in Patagonia. All is ok, well mostly. I'll be doing a day by day update in my blog talking about my time so far. I have already got Trail Day 1 up and will continue to post throughout today. I've gotta go find a place to sleep tonight first!

I'd love it if you let me know what you think of how I'm writing my blog. Too long, more detail, what do you guys want to hear about? If you could, post it in the comments sectioned the blog. Makes it easier to keep track of.

Hope to hear from you soon! Stay tuned for more!

All the best,
Mark
_________________________
"Brothers. What we do in life, echos in eternity."
-Maximus Decimus Meridius

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#159117 - 12/22/11 01:45 PM Re: JMT in Winter? Or Arizona Trail? [Re: MPCWatkins]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3889
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Loved the blog! Keep on writing, you're doing great.

Personally, I hate it when I get woke up by law enforcement shining a Mag Lite in my eyes mad

Just kidding, that's never really happened to me wink
_________________________
--

"You want to go where?"



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#159234 - 12/25/11 11:49 AM Re: JMT in Winter? Or Arizona Trail? [Re: billstephenson]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
Well, if Mark is on schedule he should be restocking today at Colossal Cave. It has been crisp in the morning with 1/2 in thick ice where there is water at 5000 feet. There is just a little snow on the ground in Payson. The Rim is solid white still at about 7000 ft elevation. With any luck I'll be meeting up with him at Rincon Creek tomorrow late afternoon. Hope everyone is having a great Christmas.

sK

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#159242 - 12/25/11 03:58 PM Re: JMT in Winter? Or Arizona Trail? [Re: skcreidc]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
Last update by me for those following this before I meet up with Mark at Rincon Cr. Just got off the phone with Mark and he seems to be doing fine. He is all restocked and ready to go (his Mom surprised him at his resupply!). Merry Christmas Mark! We are not going with crampons...and the weather seems to be turning for the better. Everyone have a great new year!

sK

PS...back to places I can go with my dog. grin

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