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#146638 - 02/19/11 11:28 AM Staying Warm in the High Sierras
Katie Offline
member

Registered: 09/11/10
Posts: 29
Sorry if this is in the wrong forum, I wasn't quite sure where to post it.
Well, after reading many trail journals, gear lists, etc about the JMT from the same time we will be on it (July/August), I've noticed almost all of these people bring (and use, almost daily) a down jacket, in addition to what I was planning on bringing. I was planning on a long base layer top and bottom (mostly to sleep in), a very thin/light fleece jacket, a wind/rain layer, liner style gloves and a hat. I thought that would be enough since it will be July, but I'm beginning to wonder if we might need extra to keep warm. We will be spending a bit of time at camp every night as we are tackling the trail pretty slowly, so we won't be jumping into our sleeping bags as soon as we set up. The problem is we definitely did not budget in backpacking weight down jackets, which are pretty darn expensive for our very low budget...about $150 each.
So I guess my question really is, is there another way to keep warm out there without carrying a bunch of additional heavy layers? Would another light fleece do the trick? I guess it depends on the individual, but what would you do? I've already looked on GearTrader and there seems to not be any light down jackets in our budget frown

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#146640 - 02/19/11 11:46 AM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: Katie]
Howie Offline
member

Registered: 06/02/03
Posts: 481
Loc: Canora, SK, Canada
I would be looking in the second hand clothing stores. You might even find a down vest that would work.

Howie

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#146641 - 02/19/11 11:52 AM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: Katie]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
My trips in summer/fall are mostly Sierra. I take a midweight base layer plus a thick pair of wool socks, usually only for sleeping, and wear nylon lightweight pants, a light wool or synthetic shirt, a sun hat, and trail runners. I use lighter weight wool socks. I have with me a fleece beanie, liner gloves, possibly a pair of heavier gloves to go over them if forecasts are for subfreezing temps already, and the waterproof layer of choice - if I'm out for more than a couple days I take a rain jacket, rain pants, and emergency poncho. If just for a few days the jacket and poncho. My midlayer is a down jacket - Marmot Venus, really not a big puffy one for lower than freezing - or, a Montbell Thermawrap - synthetic but about the same warmth level of the Marmot jacket.

You don't need a big box baffled down jacket. Look at Eddie Bauer - they have a sub-100 down jacket, lower quality down than the Marmot jackets for sure, probably leaks feathers, but it will work. You can also find down jackets on sale elsewhere. My Marmot I found at REI on a 30% off sale - it was originally 120 I think. Check at Sierra Trading Post and other outlets. Or check backpacking forums - my Thermawrap was a used buy, from someone at backpackinglight, for half its full retail. Not a thing wrong with it.

Previous to the down jacket I took a 300 wt fleece - but that wasn't nearly as warm for me.

You could also (if the weather is fair and clear and you're not sitting at a fire) sit around camp in your sleeping bag.

One of the things I discovered as I began to hike more and more was that my metabolism shifted - I am able to withstand cold better than I used to. And I'm also better at not getting cold in the first place; layer management is a skill. Put on the hat first, with the liner gloves. Then think about a jacket if you're still cold. When I'm stopping for the day before sundown, I put on the base layer immediately and put the pants back on over them for wandering around camp. Gives me a chance to wipe down some, clean the feet, put on the clean camp socks, and get ready for bed well before the temps drop for the evening. (I got good at Wet Wipe bathing.)
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#146643 - 02/19/11 01:22 PM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: Katie]
verber Offline
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Registered: 01/26/04
Posts: 269
Loc: SF Bay Area, CA
I have personally never seen the temp below ~30F on the JMT July/Aug. Not saying it can't happen, but I think it's unlikely. It also has a tendency to warm up fairly quickly. To get a sense of likely daily temps, you might want to look at the sensor data. I often use tioga pass as my stand-on for the high sierras, and then subtract 10f to make up for elevation differences.

so what to do about clothing? Depends on you camp life plan. I have some friends who are either hiking or they are asleep. A number of these folks have done the JMT with zipoff pants, a tech-tee, 100wt fleece, and rain shell. That's it. When it's cold they are either under their quilt, or hiking hard (early morning) where activity level removes the need for much insulation. On the few days they want to be up and inactive when it's the coolest, they use their quilt / bag as a cape, wrapping it around the body.

That time of year I bring a down vest (you should be able to find something decent in an end-of-season clearance someplace like landsend or Eddie Bauer, sierra trading post, etc for less than $40, sometimes as little as $25) because I don't always start so quickly in the morning and might want to watch the stars for a bit. Honestly though, the vest is used more consistently as a pillow than an insulation item. part of this is because my metabolism seems to shift when I am going 15+ mile days. So long as I have enough food I run pretty hot at the end of the day. Around town I am pulling a light jacket on when it's in the low 60F. After a day of hiking (even after I stop), I often find myself setting up camp in my hiking clothing when it';s in the upper 40F.

If you are going to be sitting around, especially if you have a leisurely start in the morning outside your sleeping bag, then you would want something that would keep you comfortable down 30F.

--mark


Edited by verber (02/19/11 01:27 PM)

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#146645 - 02/19/11 01:32 PM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: Katie]
Trailrunner Offline
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Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 1835
Loc: Los Angeles
If you do choose to bring a jacket, is there a reason why it has to be down? There are many good synthetic jackets out there that are reasonably priced. Many are warmer than 300 wt fleece but lighter and way less bulky.

I did the JMT (thruhike)in August and I really don't think you need a full blown down jacket to stay warm with the layers you already have. Temps will drop after the sun sets but it won't be terribly cold. If you want to sit around camp you can drape your sleeping bag over you.

Also, have you considered an insulated vest? Down or synthetic, they add an extra layer to warm your core without as much bulk or expense as a jacket.
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#146651 - 02/19/11 02:59 PM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: Katie]
phat Offline
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Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Originally Posted By Katie

So I guess my question really is, is there another way to keep warm out there without carrying a bunch of additional heavy layers? Would another light fleece do the trick? I guess it depends on the individual, but what would you do? I've already looked on GearTrader and there seems to not be any light down jackets in our budget frown


Katie, a lot of this is going to depend upon you and your backpacking style.

If you tend to hike for some of the day, then stop and enjoy camp, you may want something poofy and comfortable to sit around in in the evenings.

If you tend to walk all day, and only stop in the evenings and if it is cold hop into your sleeping bag you may not need as much.

It also depends a lot on you and how warm or cold you tend to get.

I do three season backpacking trips in the canadian rockies and I don't take a down jacket. I have a good shelter (hammock or tent) and a good sleeping bag. I hike in a pair of synthetic pants, sythetic shirt, and in my bag I usually take a base layer (synthetic long johns) a couple of merino wool long sleeve shirts, and then a fleece or wool sweater and an outer shell jacket (rainwear, goretex, shell, etc.) You could replace two merino shirts with just another light sweater - such as a cashemere or merino sweater from a local thrift shop.

Now to put that in context, I know I'm quite warm in that in almost any situation I'll encounter in all those layers, and if the weather is really foul I'm content to dive into my sleeping bag..

Now, if you're likely to be stopping, and spending a lot of time in camp, and if you tend to be "cold" easy, you may wish to take a little more stuff. Down jackets are a lightweight way to stay warm in camp, but certainly not a necessity.


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#146656 - 02/19/11 03:57 PM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: Katie]
Jimshaw Offline
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Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3967
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Katie,
I think everyone here with any Sierra camping experience will tell you that it can rain, snow or hail any day of the year. I've been hailed on in early August. Unless you are so tough that being wet and cold doesn't bother you, you might want something warm and dry, but it doesn't have to be down, its just that synthetics will weight twice what a down jacket does, but may perform better in above freezing temps. I ski in fleece, camp in down. For any aerobic activity you don't need a lot of insulation, but it should breath well.
Jim smile
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#146660 - 02/19/11 05:48 PM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: Jimshaw]
balzaccom Online   content
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 2026
Loc: Napa, CA
I'll add my voice to the crowd here. WE take a sythetic underlayer that we sleep in, and then a shirt to hike in. And a nice big, lightweight fleece, and a rain shell. When it is really cold, we put on all four. We don't take down jackets, but there are days (cold ones) where we do put on all this stuff. And if it is really cold, we get into the tent and into our bags...but that's happened only once in the last 350 miles or so.

Keeping dry is essential. But when I am hiking, if I am more or less dry, I won't get cold because my body is generating heat. When I stop for the day---that's when it can get colder. But it won't get that cold that often.

In the end, it's all about personal choice, and personal comfort.

My wife gets colder than I do, so she carries and extra fleece vest.


Edited by balzaccom (02/19/11 05:50 PM)
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#146661 - 02/19/11 06:31 PM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: balzaccom]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
If you don't mind the weight, a thick wool sweater would work. They will keep you warm, even if wet and can be had cheap. As far as down is concerned, I have a TNF Nuptse, but it isn't waterproof at all. I got mine at a TNF outlet store. If you do buy any TNF gear, be wary of where you get it-there is a lot of counterfeit TNF clothing and gear on the Internet, including eBay.

I would look at LL Bean, EMS, and STP (Sierra Trading Post). You should also start to see sales on winter gear about now and next month for sure. You have plenty of time, so don't buy too soon-wait til the sales start.

Just saw a post on another site that Dick's and Eddie Bauer have sales on now. Probably for Presidents' Day weekend.


Edited by TomD (02/19/11 06:41 PM)
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#146662 - 02/19/11 07:25 PM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: verber]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Originally Posted By verber
I have personally never seen the temp below ~30F on the JMT July/Aug.


Has anyone seen a -30F temp in the Sierra in July/Aug?

That's a little colder than I could tolerate even WITH a down jacket...

Quote:

If you are going to be sitting around, especially if you have a leisurely start in the morning outside your sleeping bag, then you would want something that would keep you comfortable down 30F.

--mark


I am female. When stopped and sitting around camp, the down jacket goes on when it hits 45F. Y'all male types forget we freeze easy. Fortunately, my jacket(s) work well for me down to actual freezing temps. That's when I get out the quilt.
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http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#146666 - 02/19/11 09:03 PM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: lori]
wandering_daisy Offline
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Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2865
Loc: California
I just bought a synthetic puffy vest at Target for $3.75 - closeout. It is bulky but warm. This is a good time of year to find end of winter stuff. If you only need a "sitting around camp" jacket or vest, you always have your sleeping bag as back up, so it need not be huge.

I do not take a down jacket ever in the Sierra from May to end of OCtober. I have a down vest that I throw in if weather reports are for colder than average. (in addition to three 100-wt. fleece layers or medium weight wool layers, a light wind jacket, 100-wt fleece long johns and rain gear). FOr very little extra weight, take two hats one regular stocking cap and a balaclava . Another idea is set up tents all facing each other and you can all be in your sleeping bags inside tents and still socialize. Perchance it gets cold, just retire to tents.

The extra layer or down jacket is really more convienent for mornings. Not essential, but really nice. I have seen many early mornings in the Sierra where it was in the mid-20's when I got up. And this includes August. But I was aso above 10,000 feet.

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#146674 - 02/19/11 10:44 PM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: wandering_daisy]
Katie Offline
member

Registered: 09/11/10
Posts: 29
Thanks soooo much for all the great info guys! Y'all are extremely helpful. I'm glad I asked, even if it's a dumb question :p.

We, in fact, will be sitting around camp for a couple of hours every night as we are going with a film producer/photographer who is making a documentary. That's why I was thinking I'd need the extra "something", whatever that something might be.

After a lot of looking around, I've found a down jacket (heavier and bulkier than I'd like) for about $45, but I also just found out that REI will be having one of their garage sales in March. So I'll wait till then and see if I get lucky there. And yes, good point, I have plenty of time so I can wait around for some good sales.

Again, thank you for your thoughtful responses. They make me feel less stressed about the "what ifs"! smile

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#146679 - 02/20/11 02:03 AM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: Katie]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
WD's advice about a balaclava is a good one-that and a pair of fleece gloves and a pair of mitt shells if the weather gets really dicey. Shells weigh very little and will keep the gloves dry.

btw, yours is not a dumb question. You really don't want to be cold and out in the middle of nowhere.


Edited by TomD (02/20/11 02:05 AM)
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#146683 - 02/20/11 10:57 AM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: lori]
hikerduane Offline
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Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2124
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
Some of our CA group had temps in the low 20's at least about three years ago in early August I believe it was, AFTER it snowed on them. Forrester Pass area I think. I get by with a down vest and a Polartec 100 top. And hit the tent if its too cold and windy.

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#146690 - 02/20/11 12:54 PM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: hikerduane]
Jimshaw Offline
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Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3967
Loc: Bend, Oregon
I should have added this before, but I didn't. You always want the clothes required to move through bad weather. So many rescues in the Sierras are of hypothermic people who assumed that they would not need warm dry clothes. Have the warm clothes to get up and hike in what you think will be the worst weather. Err on the side of warm hiking clothes.
Jim
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#146697 - 02/20/11 02:38 PM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: Jimshaw]
hikerduane Offline
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Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2124
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
Yes, good point Jim. If you can't get warm or stay warm hiking you didn't bring warm enough clothes. A dry change of clothes also. My hands get cold and loose strength, I'm sunk if I don't have critical things done before then.

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#146703 - 02/20/11 07:07 PM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: hikerduane]
lori Offline
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Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
A friend and I started at Onion Valley and continued on the JMT toward Whitney. When we got to Crabtree the ranger said forecasts were in the teens and the wind was increasing in higher elevations. Forecast only three days before was for a full 30 degrees warmer and we had prepared for 10-15 degrees lower, just because... rather than huddle together for warmth and brave the winds we hiked on to Horseshoe. Last day over New Army my friend had every single stitch of clothing on while hiking (I still had my midlayer packed, wore the rain jacket as a windbreaker). We got to the parking lot where it was 40F - felt warm.

It pays to be prepared, and to be willing to alter plans when you are surprised despite your planning. We didn't go out there to suffer. We contemplated getting a day permit and just summiting as a day hike (what's a few more thousand feet of gain after you've done 12,000 cumulative in four days?), but opted to head for home instead - mountain is still there, we'll do it this year.
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#146707 - 02/20/11 07:28 PM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: lori]
Howie Offline
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Registered: 06/02/03
Posts: 481
Loc: Canora, SK, Canada
A sign in my friend’s aircraft hanger reads, “It is better to be on the ground wishing you were flying than flying and wishing you were on the ground”. (Warning against flying in bad weather). As a hiker it translates, better to be carrying extra clothing I may not even need, than to be hiking unprepared and wishing I was at home.

Howie

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#146720 - 02/20/11 08:46 PM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: Katie]
BrianLe Offline
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Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1149
Loc: Washington State, King County
I've not read the (already many) responses on this thread, so forgive me if this is redundant, but I think that it can make a lot of difference how many miles you can do in a day, how much elevation gain/loss you (realistically) anticipate doing. As part of a PCT thru-hike, I went through there starting in early June when there's lots of snow, but key was that I (and all PCT thru-hikers) had hiked 700 miles to get to the start of the Sierras, and could do pretty decent miles. The result was that it was not difficult to follow the old adage of "walk high and sleep low".

When "walking high" I was fine with a wind shirt over a hiking shirt, with the key there that you don't stop for long breaks that way. Definitely gloves or mittens however (and I strongly recommend mittens of the two).

When "sleeping low", I had a thermawrap jacket and a thermawrap vest that I could layer, but in fact I rarely needed the vest. Sleeping every night below the snow line, just cooked and ate, crawled into the sleeping bag and that was it.

But if your process is different and/or your mileage (such that you might end up sleeping at higher elevations) or your metabolism ... etc etc. Pretty hard to calibrate this stuff among different people.

Since you (O.P.) say you're taking the trail slowly and won't be jumping into the bags right away --- I can't really comment. I was on a snowshoe and winter camping trip with a group this weekend, and I had cold feet a lot, which I pretty much never do --- because of a lot of built-in "sitting around" time that I'm not used to. This stuff can vary so much.

Oh, one somewhat random comment I read on another thread recently --- Cabelas is selling their 650 fill down vest for $20 right now, this might be well within your budget (if a size medium or small will fit you).
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#146784 - 02/21/11 07:25 PM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: lori]
footmobile Offline
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Registered: 02/05/11
Posts: 20
Originally Posted By lori
I am female. When stopped and sitting around camp, the down jacket goes on when it hits 45F. Y'all male types forget we freeze easy. Fortunately, my jacket(s) work well for me down to actual freezing temps. That's when I get out the quilt.


I was just going to mention my girl gets cold a lot quicker than I do. She takes a nano puff along with the rest and then if she is still cold we just hop into the sleeping bags.
I had it snow in July but I don't remember it being in the minus temps in August

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#146795 - 02/21/11 09:02 PM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: BrianLe]
Jimshaw Offline
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Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3967
Loc: Bend, Oregon
BrianLe,
I have been thinking about the influence of altitude lately on such things as sleeping bag efficiency/ratings and other factors, but somehow the SAME temperature at HIGHER altitude is "COLDER". I live at 4,000 feet and camping in my backyard the other night at 18 degrees, I never even zipped up my sleeping bag. I can remember winter storms in the Sierras with temperaturs in the teens around 8,000 feet and it was already bitterly cold and we wore down suits in camp similar to 8,000 meter suits and I definitely zipper and up and closed down my sleeping bag.
Jim
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#146799 - 02/21/11 10:34 PM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: Jimshaw]
Barefoot Friar Offline
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Registered: 01/23/09
Posts: 176
Loc: Houston, Alabama
Hmmmm. I wonder how much of that is physiological, and how much might be psychological?
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#146807 - 02/22/11 01:00 AM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: Jimshaw]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1149
Loc: Washington State, King County
Three factors come to mind, for me at least.

(1) The temperature literally does change. I've seen different figures for how much; this site says about 4 degrees F per 1000' of elevation.

(2) At higher elevations for me in the Sierras, there was snow, or snow melt and associated runoff streams. Sleeping below that level avoided issues with sleeping on snow or wet ground, and in particular, perhaps needing more ground insulation.

(3) Higher elevations can also be windy; more of a factor for me in my single-walled tent than someone with a beefier tent, but nevertheless potentially a factor. Of course higher doesn't have to be windier, but overall I think site selection to favor warmth can be easier lower down.

In terms of your comment about the same elevation seeming colder --- perhaps humidity has been a factor? A lot of folks (myself included) feel that the same temperature and wind conditions feel colder when it's damp (foggy, mist, whatever).

Of course there are other factors that could impact how you felt literally in your own backyard vs. in a place that you hiked to with all of your gear on your back ...

I'm certainly not saying you're wrong here (!), just musing out loud I guess.
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#146814 - 02/22/11 09:23 AM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: BrianLe]
ringtail Offline
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Registered: 08/22/02
Posts: 2296
Loc: Colorado Rockies
It seems that people are worried more about insulation than the "furnace". The energy used to climb high can not be used to fuel the furnace. If you spend a lot of time in camp then the time between eating your evening meal and using your sleeping insulation is longer - this can NOT be good. Don't forget to keep a Snickers bar in your sleeping bag. A hot beverage warms you from the inside.
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#146818 - 02/22/11 09:49 AM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: ringtail]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Originally Posted By ringtail
Don't forget to keep a Snickers bar in your sleeping bag.


Unless you have to keep it in the bear canister.

Or you may have a bear warming you up by climbing in with you.

I can't really do that... and wouldn't recommend that anyone doing the JMT try it. The bears are too busy with your canisters to think they wouldn't just come into the tent. And then there's the story of the gal doing trail work who got the care package from home, and hid her chocolate bar under her pillow so no one else would take it, and woke to a black bear licking her cheek...
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#146819 - 02/22/11 09:55 AM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: lori]
gorge_medic Offline
member

Registered: 08/06/08
Posts: 131
Loc: Kentucky
One thing you might consider is, like an early post suggested, using your bag/quilt as an insulating layer under your rain shell (not sure how well it would work if you're using a poncho like I do). Gossamer Gear makes a decently compelling case for it on their website in their info/tips section.

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#146820 - 02/22/11 10:22 AM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: gorge_medic]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
If you get a JRB quilt with the head hole and optional sleeves, it doubles as a jacket. Can even add the hood.
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#146823 - 02/22/11 11:18 AM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: lori]
ringtail Offline
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Registered: 08/22/02
Posts: 2296
Loc: Colorado Rockies
You are right lori.

Actually, I never put anything with sugar in my mouth after I brush before bed.

My bad habit is keeping a 20 oz. GatorAde bottle with sugar free drink mix on the shelf in my hammock. Would that be a problem in the Sierras?
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"In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not."
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#146825 - 02/22/11 11:21 AM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: lori]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1149
Loc: Washington State, King County
I was seriously considering one of the JRB wearable quilts for this coming year, but a couple of factors inclined me instead to buying a different sleeping bag --- a very personal trade-off based on personal experience and hiking + camping "style".

The key factor for me is that while I don't tend to spend a lot of time "hanging around" in camp, a lot of the time that I do so in cold weather I'm sitting "half in the bag" --- sober, in fact :-), but sitting up with my torso, legs, and feet in the sleeping bag, eating or typing up my trail journal or looking at guidebook and map pages to think a bit about the next days hike. In that context, I need something separate to keep my upper body warm, hence the JRB approach wasn't ideal for me. I also feel that an enclosed mummy bag is warmer per amount of weight carried than a quilt that doesn't enclose the head and neck. So instead I'm carrying a 6 oz down jacket "just for camp and breaks" and a warmer sleeping bag than I've ever carried before.

I definitely do NOT mean to talk down the JRB approach --- fine folks with a great product that fits some people's needs just perfectly, including some long distance hikers such as Andrew Skurka.

W.r.t. the candy bar in the sleeping bag comments, I completely agree with Lori. Outside of habituated bear areas (national parks and the like), I will sometimes sleep with my food, but never inside such areas. I personally met and talked (literally the following day) to a thru-hiker who had opted to carry more food than fit in her bear can and was sleeping on the remainder as a pillow when a bear came up to her in the night (I think she was cowboy camping) and initially let her know quite politely that it wanted her food. When she demurred, the bear put a paw on her leg, so she gave up the bag. Bottom line is that I would hydrate and eat just before sleeping but not sleep with food in the Sierras.
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Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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#146832 - 02/22/11 12:22 PM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: ringtail]
Rick_D Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2912
Loc: NorCal
Geographically, problem bears are present in a very small fraction of the Sierra Nevada and there's very good information as to where it is that Yogi is causing trouble. In those areas I'd not consider snacks or flavored drinks in my shelter--everything goes into the canister or bear box--but elsewhere I do so routinely without ever having an issue (covering decades of camping up there).

Now, coastal raccoons are a whole different story!

p.s. On the original topic, like nearly everybody I've had mid-summer experiences with crappy Sierra weather. My comfort zone packing is three days--I trust the forecasts for that length of time. Any longer and I make sure I'm equipped for a surprise half-foot of snow.

Cheers,

Originally Posted By ringtail
You are right lori.

Actually, I never put anything with sugar in my mouth after I brush before bed.

My bad habit is keeping a 20 oz. GatorAde bottle with sugar free drink mix on the shelf in my hammock. Would that be a problem in the Sierras?


Edited by Rick_D (02/22/11 01:42 PM)
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#146838 - 02/22/11 01:19 PM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: Barefoot Friar]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3967
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Bear,
Maybe neither - consider the environment. At altitude the air pressure is much lower as is the amount of oxygen available due to lowered pressure. I'm just trying to remember but I think the air pressure at 10,000 is 75% of sealevel. Your body is less efficient and perhaps it affects how heat is carried away from your bag.
Are all bags rated for sealevel, or at sealevel - like camp stoves? In the case of camping in my backyard and being warm - yes I was not exhausted but rather refreshed when I turned in, and in the case of the Sierras, I most probably came up from sealevel and was pretty tired. But I do live at 4,000 feet, however I am fully adapted to the altitude. When we get our blood oxyge tested up here, we still get 99 and 100%. Its a very complicated issue, but do think you require more insulation at the same temps when at higher altitude.
Jim smile
Jim
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#146841 - 02/22/11 01:40 PM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: Jimshaw]
OregonMouse Online   content
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6738
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I strongly suspect that for those not already acclimatized, high altitude will definitely feel colder! Also, it normally is a lot colder up there!
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#146848 - 02/22/11 02:50 PM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: OregonMouse]
Katie Offline
member

Registered: 09/11/10
Posts: 29
More and more great responses and thoughts on the matter. Thank you.
I think my bf and I (him more than me, I must admit) are in the camp of "rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it"

Oh and thank you so much for the info on the Cabela's sale...we're going to go to our local Cabela's and see if they have the same sale in stores, or at least try the jackets on to see what size we need. Great deals there. I wouldn't have even thought to look there!

And yes acclimation...I lived in Louisiana for the past 20 years, and Texas for the last (almost) year...so I imagine I'll be feeling miserable for the first couple of days, as well as colder than usual.

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#146863 - 02/22/11 10:02 PM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: Katie]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Katie, As far as altitude goes, there is at least one thread here on that from a couple of months ago, I think. My advice is to acclimate slowly, whether that means taking it easy for the first few days or slowly working you way up to altitude. Take along something for headaches, if you get one and drink plenty of fluids. Altitude sickness is nothing to take lightly.
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#146867 - 02/22/11 10:48 PM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: Katie]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
If you are going Happy Isles to Whitney, and concerned about acclimation, take the first leg of the trip slowly. Consider spending a night at Little Yosemite, doing the side trip to whichever (Half Dome or Clouds Rest - the view from the latter is better, and considerably less crowded) and spending another night along the trail to Tuolumne Meadows (Sunrise or Cathedral Lakes) then a third at Tuolumne. TM is at 9,000 feet. If at any point along this leg you feel symptoms you could opt to lengthen the time at TM another night to see if you feel better. If you're okay, move on down the trail. If symptoms don't abate you have a decision to make and can hop on the hiker bus back to the valley if you decide to bail. Coming from Happy Isles is actually a pretty good acclimation curve. Easy to go slow when things are that scenic.

You'll probably feel it more in the first week than in the last - which will be good, by the time you get to the last leg of the trail, hitting a pass every day like clockwork will be no sweat.
_________________________
"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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#146882 - 02/23/11 11:56 AM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: lori]
Katie Offline
member

Registered: 09/11/10
Posts: 29
We are going South to North, but spending a night at 7,000 feet and then 10,000 feet before summiting Whitney. So, that's the good part. Hopefully if I take it easy (whatever "easy" is when climbing a mountain...) I won't get too sick. I'll make sure to stay hydrated. I've dealt with altitude sickness before when I went to Salt Lake City...not fun.

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#146883 - 02/23/11 12:19 PM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: Katie]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
http://www.princeton.edu/~oa/safety/altitude.shtml

If you click up a level there's a list of other articles on things like hypothermia and heat issues... very good reading.

Have fun!
_________________________
"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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#146884 - 02/23/11 01:32 PM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: Katie]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
Originally Posted By Katie
Hopefully if I take it easy (whatever "easy" is when climbing a mountain...)


The closest approximation to "easy" is probably establishing a steady pace with which you are comfortable, and sticking with it. Your approach scenario looks like a good one for dealing with altitude.

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#146904 - 02/24/11 10:14 AM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: Katie]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
Originally Posted By Katie
I've dealt with altitude sickness before when I went to Salt Lake City...not fun.


SLC is only at 4500 ft. Unless you went in the mountains, you weren't very high.
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#146915 - 02/24/11 03:05 PM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: finallyME]
Katie Offline
member

Registered: 09/11/10
Posts: 29
lol yes it was a skiing trip. We were in the mountains the majority of the time.

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#146917 - 02/24/11 03:58 PM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: Katie]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2124
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
We'll be testing our gear this weekend. Our group of five is down to three now. Should be lots of fresh snow out here in the Sierra again this week. Expected highs in the mid 20's where we are going a little west of Lake Tahoe.

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#146922 - 02/24/11 07:24 PM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: Katie]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2865
Loc: California
Please re-check the weather reports! Lake level at Tahoe this weekend will have lows 5 degrees F. There is a major storm brewing - 1-3 feet of snow, more on the west shore of Tahoe. And bitter cold. Be careful.

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#146928 - 02/24/11 08:35 PM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: Katie]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
Hey Duane, I'm thinking you are already on this, but it is supposed to get cold; snow level in San Diego is supposed to drop to 1500 ft and that doesn't happen very often.

Katie, you might want to plan a few extra days around Bishop before you go up to 14k. You could camp in the White mountains or in the east side of the Sierra for 2 to 3 days to acclimatize. If you can spend the time, White mountian is an easy summit except for the fact that it is a mere 250 ft shorter than Whitney. A good altitude shakedown hike.

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#146932 - 02/24/11 08:57 PM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: wandering_daisy]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3967
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Dasiy and Duane
I'm just sayin - I have been out on a weekend up around Lake Alpine above Arnold, with NO snow predicted, and been hit by a freak blizzard out of nowhere with -5 temps and 50 mph gusts. It was a good thing that we were nailed down with 4 skis or the tent would have blown off the mountain with us in it - and it was clear and nice when we turned in.

Also advice from a stormchaser - don't go more than a mile in and have a shovel with you that is adequate to dig out your vehicle, if expecting a storm.
Jim
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#146938 - 02/24/11 09:50 PM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: Jimshaw]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2124
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
I hear you Nancy and Jim. I've warned the flatlanders, its gonna be cold and lots of fresh snow. I just hate the low high for Saturday. My plan and I tried to warn them, is to just snowshoe in a short ways, mostly because it may be hard going thru all the fresh snow. Eight of us have been in above Lake Winnemucca and had to snowshoe out thru 2 feet of fresh snow, then shovel the cars out of a unplowed parking lot. We could of had two women come with if we had gone in March. They are gungho, advised they take it easy coming up Saturday morning, 4X4's are in the ditches during storms. I have my WM Antelope Super, its been used below zero a few times and I have my other down clothing too. Since it will be so cold, my down jacket should stay dry, I don't own a parka. Don is around 60, Andy is 32. Don's gonna dig a coffin, I may dig down a little we'll see. I'll have the tough drive, coming up out of Carson City where I work during the week, not looking forward to hitting 50 west bound. We are meeting up around 10AM, so if I get a early start I should have lots of time. Like New Year's Eve, the traffic should be east bound, I can wave at them as I drive by. I have my shovel in my pickup. It's been used for appropriate use before. smile

Edit for trip location. Loon Lake, lower than Tahoe.


Edited by hikerduane (02/24/11 09:52 PM)

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#146962 - 02/25/11 02:13 PM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: hikerduane]
Rick_D Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2912
Loc: NorCal
I know the area well--lovely spot and reasonably open so it's relatively easy to navigate and not get lost (except in a full-on blizzard). Your first challenge may be whether the road is plowed all the way from 50, as it's about 30 miles from the highway to Loon. As a bailout I sometimes park at Ice House and just walk into the woods from there.

Based on what's been blowing through since last night, you'll have MANY feet of new snow (atop many more from last weekend) and it won't be Sierra cement. Take the biggest snowshoes you can, and the tall gaiters.

We spent last weekend in Arnold (4k feet) where there was 2-3 feet of fluff. Up at about 6,500 feet the new snow ranged from 4-6 feet. I had small snowshoes and kept sinking up to my waist with just a daypack.

After the very dry January and the first half of February, we now have basically a full year's snowpack (first time since '06). A nice change!

Cheers,


Originally Posted By hikerduane
I hear you Nancy and Jim. I've warned the flatlanders, its gonna be cold and lots of fresh snow. I just hate the low high for Saturday. My plan and I tried to warn them, is to just snowshoe in a short ways, mostly because it may be hard going thru all the fresh snow. Eight of us have been in above Lake Winnemucca and had to snowshoe out thru 2 feet of fresh snow, then shovel the cars out of a unplowed parking lot. We could of had two women come with if we had gone in March. They are gungho, advised they take it easy coming up Saturday morning, 4X4's are in the ditches during storms. I have my WM Antelope Super, its been used below zero a few times and I have my other down clothing too. Since it will be so cold, my down jacket should stay dry, I don't own a parka. Don is around 60, Andy is 32. Don's gonna dig a coffin, I may dig down a little we'll see. I'll have the tough drive, coming up out of Carson City where I work during the week, not looking forward to hitting 50 west bound. We are meeting up around 10AM, so if I get a early start I should have lots of time. Like New Year's Eve, the traffic should be east bound, I can wave at them as I drive by. I have my shovel in my pickup. It's been used for appropriate use before. smile

Edit for trip location. Loon Lake, lower than Tahoe.
_________________________
--Rick

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#146970 - 02/25/11 03:07 PM Acclimatization to altitude [Re: Katie]
OregonMouse Online   content
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6738
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Katie, if you had altitude problems as low as Salt Lake City, you definitely need to go out several days in advance of your trip. Camp or motel at a lower altitude (one at which you're comfortable) but hike progressively higher each day. This is the "climb high, sleep low" method that is the preferred method of acclimatization. From the link in Lori's post:

Quote:
"Climb High and sleep low." This is the maxim used by climbers. You can climb more than 1,000 feet (305 meters) in a day as long as you come back down and sleep at a lower altitude.

If you begin to show symptoms of moderate altitude illness, don't go higher until symptoms decrease ("Don't go up until symptoms go down")....

Stay properly hydrated. Acclimatization is often accompanied by fluid loss, so you need to drink lots of fluids to remain properly hydrated (at least 3-4 quarts per day). Urine output should be copious and clear....

Eat a high carbohydrate diet (more than 70% of your calories from carbohydrates) while at altitude.

_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#146975 - 02/25/11 04:00 PM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: Rick_D]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2124
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
Thanks Rick, good backup plan. I only had two feet of fresh snow at my place last Friday when I got home for the week. If the snow is that hard to go thru, all we are looking for is the experience and to practice shelters if the snow density is good.

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#146999 - 02/25/11 10:34 PM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: hikerduane]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3967
Loc: Bend, Oregon
If there is a good dump you may spend the rest of the winter at Loon Lake. I hope your group has some vehicles with winches. Have fun and be prepared to travel 30 miles out to the hiway. Is there a snow park around there? They WILL plow them out.
Jim
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#147096 - 02/27/11 07:34 PM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: Jimshaw]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2124
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
All went sorta well Jim. Yes, they keep the 30 miles of road plowed due to the water department needs access. I was running late due to issues with getting my chains on my studded tires which I had sized for my regular tires, but I had left an extra link on each side, so just had to readjust the chains, then when I took them off, I had to lay in the snow and unhook one chain as it hung up a little when I unhooked it and drug it in the snow a few feet so they could be thrown back in the box. The other two guys came together, they took the wrong road, which I thought maybe I needed to take and we all hooked up 30 minutes late, but it worked out. Beautiful day, 24 degrees, 6 at night, beautiful morning, lovely sunset.

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#149602 - 04/25/11 04:38 PM Re: Staying Warm in the High Sierras [Re: Katie]
Mudflap Offline
newbie

Registered: 04/25/11
Posts: 13
puff jackets work great. synthetic or down. i have a down one from EMS it was less than $70. lncredibly light, packs down to about the size of a paperback book. doubles as a pillow. if it's above 25-30F it's too warm for me. so definently will keep you warm at night or up in the high sierra...

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