Jul 28, 2010 at 2:21 pm #1261665
Background: This is my first attempt to transition to UL. I want to be a little conservative, but I think I am overdoing it a little. Also, note I backpack like this about once every 3 years, so I'm a little rusty. I'll post the full gear list later, but would like to get your opinions on the clothing. In particular, I'm thinking about dropping the fleece, but because my rain gear is not breathable, I am worried about getting a day or two of constant rain and my down jacket getting wet. Perhaps I should ditch the down jacket? Although it would be great in camp.
Destination: North Cascades, WA, see subject for loop
Time: 5 days
Distance: ~45 miles
Expected temperatures: 40-85F (any opinions on this)
Highest Elevation: about 6000 ft.
Time Span: Aug. 1-7
Other: Expected snowfield traverse at Spider Gap
Boots, Lowa GTX Renegade, 47 oz
socks, smartwool heavyweight, 4 oz
pants, REI nylon convertable, 13.6
underwear, to be purchased, 5 oz?
top, lightweight nylon shortsleeve, 5.9 oz
Total Worn: 75.5 oz = 4.72 lbs
extra pair socks, smartwool heavyweight, 4 oz
long sleeve shirt, nylong, 7.3 oz
long underwear bottoms, midweight, 9.5 oz
long underwear top, lightweight, 8.2 oz
fleece, (300 wt?), 16 oz
down jacket, (old and beat-up), 17.1 oz
rain top, North Face unknown name, 6.5 oz
rain pants, to be purchased
fleece hat, 2 oz
glove liners, 1.4 oz
fleece mittens, 2 oz
baseball hat, 2.6 oz
stuff sack for clothes, 4 oz
Total Carried: 74 oz = 4.64 lbsJul 28, 2010 at 3:02 pm #1633012
First of all, that's a drop-dead gorgeous trip! I took it 22 years ago and would love to do it again. Just be careful about the descent from Spider Gap to Upper Lyman Lake, which as you know is down a snow field–wait until at least mid-afternoon for the snow to get good and soft. Otherwise this trip is all on trail, major streams are bridged, the camping places even have wilderness potties, some of which have a great view of Glacier Peak from the "throne." If you're going in the next week or two, you will have some problems with the late-melting snow. I'd say that by the end of next week, you'll be fine.
OK, for the clothing: You definitely do not need both the down jacket and the fleece jacket; take one. The north Cascades is not the Arctic or even the high-altitude Rockies. The base layer, one insulation layer and waterproof outer layer will be just fine. I'm assuming, of course, that you're going in August and not October, when it can be a lot colder. I'd say the same for the fleece mittens and liner gloves: take one. If it does get down close to freezing, liner gloves are actually better because you don't have to take them off for every little camp chore–the fleece mitts are warmer but not when you have to keep removing them!
This being the year of the mosquito, with late-melting snow in the Cascades, I'd also take only the long-sleeve shirt, unless you really need to lose some of your blood supply. I'd also spray the shirt and pants with permethrin before starting, and take a headnet.
You are going to get awfully tired tramping around the Cascades in 3-pound boots! If I go again (I'd like to!), I will be wearing trail runners which weigh half as much as your boots. You don't need crampons on that snowfield, unless you insist on descending it when it's icy. Unless you're also planning to climb Glacier Peak (which you'd do from the west, not from this route, to avoid having to cross the Suiattle valley), you don't need heavy mountaineering boots.
Compared to the boots, the 4 oz. stuff sack seems nothing, but you can get an 8L silnylon dry bag that will hold all your extra clothing and keep it dry for 1.1 oz.Jul 28, 2010 at 3:23 pm #1633016
I was up at Spider Meadows on Saturday. It does definitely get cold up there by morning. It was in the 80's in the afternoon and by morning it had dropped to about 40. Mosquitoes were not a problem this time. some flys though. Its Hit or miss with those things. One week later they could be terrible. Make sure you get a Pass for your car. Last year I was up there and a ranger came over as I drove up to check mine. I have also gotten tickets when I forgot it.
http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/passespermits/index.shtmlJul 28, 2010 at 4:26 pm #1633028
Hows the snow up at Spider Meadows? Do you think the snowfield/glacier will be passable?Jul 28, 2010 at 4:27 pm #1633029
Note also that it's a couple of miles and quite a bit uphill from the trailhead at Trinity (where you will come out) and the trailhead for Phelps Creek (where you go in). A 2-car party, if it can be arranged, will save a lot of hassles.
Yes, you will have temps down to the low 40s or even the low 30's at night, but with your base layer, hiking shirt, either the down *or* the 300-wt. fleece jacket and your rain jacket, plus hat and gloves, you'll be plenty warm enough in the evenings and early mornings! The idea is to put all your layers together for the coldest time, not just one or two.
The snowfield might even be easier with more snow on it, as long as it is soft. I'd be more worried about some of the other sections, especially the Cloudy Pass to Suiattle Pass section (take the regular trail, not the hiker cutoff, if it's still snowy on that north-facing basin). It is continuing to melt at a rapid rate up there, so I suspect you won't be the first person through. Have you checked nwhikers.net?Jul 28, 2010 at 4:45 pm #1633032
I'd checked nwhikers.net today and hadn't found any recent trip reports. I'm going to call the ranger station tomorrow and see what they say. Last week they said there was plenty of snow but it was melting fast.Jul 28, 2010 at 4:48 pm #1633033
Yeah, I know the boots are heavy. I needed a new pair (these are also what I use for snow shovelling, bike commuting through snow, general winter use), and didn't have the $ for one more pair. But this is on my to-buy list and it's nice to have the positive reinforcement.
Down coat is now out; I'll just bring the fleece.Jul 28, 2010 at 5:14 pm #1633036
From the photos of Spider Meadow in that thread, I'd say the trail is clear all the way to where the so-called Spider "Glacier" starts. If you click on the first photo to enlarge it, you'll see where the trail goes up, to the right of the cascading stream. After looking at the picture, now I wanna go, too!
The north-facing slopes near the passes that I mentioned earlier might be more of an issue, but I'm sure you'll make it through and won't be the first person to go through. Try to avoid stepping on snow right next to a sticking up rock, because the snow has probably melted close to the rock and you might find your foot making a too-sudden trip down!Jul 28, 2010 at 8:05 pm #1633080
@tuskaderoLocale: Washington State
Derek, that is an awesome trip. One of my fav places. I agree with the other reply, I think it is overkill to have a fleece AND down jacket as well as gloves AND liners. While it can get chilly over there, I think glove liners and your down jacket/long sleeve thermal top/rain jacket combo is definetely plenty.
I also agree trail runners are the way to go on any trips. However, up and over spider gap can be tricky and may be a bit uncomfortable for someone in running shoes. Lightweight boots may be your better go, or even some low top trail shoes.
One more thought, check as the day approaches but if you are going Aug 1, the weather around here looks pretty solid. I think rain pants may be overkill. The chance of DAYS on end of rain over there this time of year is fairly slight.
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