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#163965 - 03/15/12 08:19 PM 10 most important desert camping facts
Dyingjohnnie Offline

Registered: 02/22/12
Posts: 51
Loc: SLC, Utah
You learn that what's important is how you got there, not what you've accomplished. - Yvon Chouinard

#163967 - 03/15/12 08:51 PM Re: 10 most important desert camping facts [Re: Dyingjohnnie]
Banjopickin Offline

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 58
Loc: NC
1. cactus' are not good toilet paper shocked

Edited by Banjopickin (03/15/12 08:51 PM)
Climb the Mountains and get their good tidings...
-John Muir

#163969 - 03/15/12 09:43 PM Re: 10 most important desert camping facts [Re: Dyingjohnnie]
BrianLe Offline

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1149
Loc: Washington State, King County
I think it depends on what you mean by "desert". I think that few camp in true desert. Folks often refer to the first 700 miles of the PCT as "the desert", but it's not --- it is dry, water is an issue, etc, but still.

As far as "relatively hot, dry" backpacking areas, there are lots of tips out there if you do even a hasty search. Here's one good example, one that I pretty much entirely agree with. Some others include this one, and this one. There are surely more.

I don't mean to cut off discussion with the above (!), but also see no sense in regurgitating old chestnuts that are already well defined --- i.e., more interesting IMO to discuss in the context of an existing base of knowledge. For example, I think there can be some debate over the merits of long-sleeved loose clothing vs. going in shorts and t-shirt (I favor the former). Or the right type of water containers, or use of inflatable mattresses or not, or concerns about snakes when night hiking, or use of an umbrella or not, etc etc.
Brian Lewis

#163970 - 03/15/12 09:59 PM Re: 10 most important desert camping facts [Re: BrianLe]
skcreidc Offline

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
I could not come up with a top 10 list for anything to save my life. Even top 10 beers would be a struggle. I agree with Brian that this discussion would benefit from a little focus because the topic is a little broad. So.......

Best time to go backpacking in the desert? Fall, Winter, and Spring. Cooler temps, the snakes are not out as much (but if it is warm they will be out), and in Spring there are the flowers.

#163986 - 03/16/12 09:02 AM Re: 10 most important desert camping facts [Re: Dyingjohnnie]
Blue_Ridge_Ninja Offline

Registered: 09/09/11
Posts: 98
Loc: North Georgia
I like water and trees too much to venture into the desert.

#163993 - 03/16/12 09:26 AM Re: 10 most important desert camping facts [Re: Dyingjohnnie]
finallyME Offline

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
What deserts are you talking about? It does matter. Are you talking about the high deserts that are west of you in Utah, or the ones that are near the Grand Canyon?
I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.

#164000 - 03/16/12 12:33 PM Re: 10 most important desert camping facts [Re: finallyME]
skcreidc Offline

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
Finallyme beat me too it. Not to get too touchy-feely about it but each area has its own feel and rhythm; you know, stuff like when the rains come. Because if there is anything important to know about desert backpacking, its understanding your water sources. Don't be expecting to extract water from prickly pear using a solar still after a prolonged dry period.

I personally really enjoy the deserts. They can be very raw and magical places.

#164017 - 03/16/12 02:33 PM Re: 10 most important desert camping facts [Re: BrianLe]
aimless Offline

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2964
Loc: Portland, OR
I think it depends on what you mean by "desert".

The scientific definition I have heard is very precise, but unless you have the correct data it won't be very helpful:

A desert is any area where the potential for evaporation is 1300% of the average precipitation.

#164022 - 03/16/12 04:32 PM Re: 10 most important desert camping facts [Re: aimless]
Tye Offline

Registered: 09/15/11
Posts: 76
Loc: Texas
#2 When you hear thunder in July/August, make damn sure you get out of that washout quickly.

#3 Those lightning storms are beautiful... from a distance. Up close and personal, not so beautiful.

Edited by Tye (03/16/12 04:33 PM)

#164024 - 03/16/12 05:20 PM Re: 10 most important desert camping facts [Re: Dyingjohnnie]
Dryer Offline

Registered: 12/05/02
Posts: 3585
Loc: Texas
1. Know your desert. Read up on it before you go. Plan accordingly.

2. Check weather. It can be cold and hot in the same 24 hours.

3. Have portable shade at all times (umbrella, poncho shelter,etc).

4. Wear white, long sleeves, cotton blend shirts.

5. Never trust water reports, even on the same day.

6. File a flight plan with someone. A national park camping permit is not a flight plan.

7. Learn the prominent plants in the area.

8. Tweezers/pliers. (nuff said)

9. If hiking, go slow. It's a macro environment and lots of cool desert things are small and you might miss them.

10. If car camping...chill, lay in some shade all day, and soak in the solitude. You should be able to hear the soda/beer bubbles in your mouth like a distant applause.
paul, texas KD5IVP

#164038 - 03/16/12 08:18 PM Re: 10 most important desert camping facts [Re: Blue_Ridge_Ninja]
oldranger Offline

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
You would be surprised by how many people drown in the desert - usually from flash floods. Depending upon your desert and location, there are also some really phenomenal trees, both large and small. It's just simply that there are not a lot of trees all crowded together.

I find this to be a fairly odd thread in that it is lumping together many,many different environments and ecosystems under one generic term. Consider "10 most important mountain camping facts." What would you make of a question like that?

Edited by oldranger (03/16/12 08:18 PM)

#164105 - 03/18/12 02:33 AM Re: 10 most important desert camping facts [Re: oldranger]
immortal.ben Offline

Registered: 09/10/11
Posts: 91
Loc: Arizona
I live and backpack in the Sonoran Desert. Some of my ten things here are different than my ten things I would pick backpacking in the mountains of Colorado again.

1. Lots of extra water. I hike where there might be no pooled water for miles and miles. Just did it a couple of days ago, in fact. Three of us went in with a minimum of 6 liters each... it was not enough. Heckuva story though...
2. Good topo map. I did not need this so much in Colorado because pooled water was not hard to find there. Here you need the topo in order to plan a relatively easy route to a possible water source.
3. Hat (mine is a very thin, white cotton ballcap) and a triangle bandage (military cravat from medic kit) for shade to the ears and neck.
4. A Lighter (on all of my lists)
5.Trekking poles (on all of my lists)
6. A quality, full tang, fixed blade knife. (on all of my lists)
7. A hiking partner (more important to me here than elsewhere, AND this does not make my pack any heavier!)
8. The ability to disinfect the nasty, horrible, fetid water I do need to drink out here.
9. Knowledge of the area I am heading into. Whether first-hand from a friend or via internet/books.

I could not come up with a 10th item. Oh well.

Life is a verb.


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