Feb 5, 2012 at 11:59 pm #1285256
I like camping high; not in the trees – so preferably above treeline.
Is this a reasonably viable option on the PCT (thinking of this over the next year or two)?
If so then I would guess (and it is a guess based on limited US hiking experience – the JMT) that a self-supporting shelter is a better idea than something that relies on lots of secure pegs to be stable?
Also (guessing again) that bear-bagging is not an option and that an Ursack (or similar) might be the way to go?Feb 6, 2012 at 6:22 am #1835143
drowning in spamMember
An Ursack is not the way to go in the areas that require a bear canister.
You can find a way to pitch any shelter just about anywhere. I've never pitched any type of shelter without stakes, so I don't get the desire to use a different type of shelter based on using stakes.Feb 6, 2012 at 7:40 am #1835177
I imagined that readers would realise that I got the bearcan thing via my reference to the JMT…but..
I'd have struggled pitching something requiring many stakes in places on the JMT; hence…Feb 6, 2012 at 8:14 pm #1835547
As you probably already know the PCT has a FAR wider variety of terrain and vegetation and altitude than the JMT.
Shelter-wise, it mostly comes down to what you value more – light weight or convenience.
Shelters that can get by with fewer stakes and which depend less on the stakes for their structure will have more poles and weigh more (in general), but will be more convenient in the sense that you can set them up easily on more places. That said, I think there are very few places on the PCT where you couldn't set up a tarp so that it would protect you from the weather, if you are creative, and especially if you use trekking poles or a walking stick. It's just that in some spots, it's going to be a lot of work to make it happen compared to setting up a more "structured" shelter.Feb 6, 2012 at 8:51 pm #1835564
@dirk9827Locale: Pacific Northwest
There are places on the PCT where setting up a Shelter can be a bit of a pain, but in reality, I experience very few problems overall. Most people use tarptents, tarps and other single wall shelters. Late northbounders sometimes switch to heartier tents late in the season up north to deal with potential snows. But really, there is no reason you can't do the whole thing in a lightweight shelter.
There is plenty of space to camp along most parts of the PCT. The terrain is varied but the views are plentiful. There are places where you might need to hike a bit longer to find a spot, but you will be fine. I would say a far more common occurence is people leaving pegs behind at the previous camp.
I can only think of a few times that I had any issue. Of course, the opportunity to camp in an epic spot didn't always present itself – and frankly, when you are tired after hiking for a long, long day you don't always care. But there were plenty of times when we did find a really nice spot to camp, and that was fantastic. But I never seemed to enjoy it very long before falling asleep.
DirkFeb 6, 2012 at 11:03 pm #1835606
Thanks Chaps; useful replies – I think I am glad to hear it's not all Sierra-esque (grandeur aside); I carry poles and have dabbled with tarps…..not really a fine choice for UK conditions though!
A nice cuben Trailstar looks good :-)
Any thoughts on food storage? Or – given you comments – are my dreams (fantasies) about camping high on rocky excresences just a little romantic and will there usually be a handy tree? Ditch the Ursack idea?Feb 7, 2012 at 7:49 am #1835696
@dirk9827Locale: Pacific Northwest
There are plenty of trees from which to hang a bag but a lot of people (myself included) didn't worry about bears except for certain sections, so we didn't bother hanging a bear bag. I think squirrels and other small scavengers were more of a threat than bears in many places. I kept food in a large silnylon bear bag lined with a odor-barrier OPSack and called it good, often sleeping with it under my head when a convenient tree wasn't available. I didn't carry particularly odorous food.
A lot of people carried Ursacks and others carried cuben or silnylon bear bags and slept with them or hung them if need be. ZPacks makes some as well as others. Just a big sack with some spectra cord and a D-ring carabiner.
The possibility of bear interactions are greatest in certain spots in the Sierra, although we encountered bears in Southern and Northern California as well as central/northern Washington. The truth is, the greatest population of bear activity you are likely to see on the trail is when you walk near established (car accessible) campgrounds, which are fairly rare. The one where you would see bear activity if you hung around for a bit would be at Yosemite National Park adjacent to the Tuolumne River, aka "Blue Plastic Tarp World." You walk across some of the most majestic passes in the Sierra and then the trail descends to travel near that place, and it's a bit surreal. But the bears know that the campers there have coolers and food, and they are very familiar with humans. I'd suggest moving on and camping say, a couple of miles north.
You will have a great time. I am confident of that. It sounds like you are very prepared and are asking all the right questions. If you haven't seen it before, the pct-l (List serve) is another great place to have questions answered, although it's not the most organized forum on the Internet.
Enjoy your adventure! Keep the questions coming, there are many PCT/Long trail veterans on these forums.
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