Mar 5, 2012 at 12:43 pm #1286657
Hello all this is goonch, first post here on the forums. So after getting halfway through the JMT last summer (55lbs-60lbs pack) I'm redoing it in mid to late august (23-25 days) and doing right (light and self reliant). So far I've taken lots of steps to minimize weight; ID silshelter, foam pad, minimizing socks/underwear/clothes in general. what I'm left with is about a 25-27lbs pack so far. Ill be purchasing a new sleeping bag at next weekends rei gear sale hopefully saving about a pound. what questions I have are (and it might be too early to tell) what type of snow traction if any do y'all think ill need? last year I look crampons (big and heavy mistake) what i was thinking was just micro spikes, but with this years snow fall I'm considering dropping them as a hole, comments/criticisms (ill be bringing poles as well)? Also I've had my lucky trusty PUR hiker filter for the past 3 years and my dad had it before that… but I'm sure y'all will say I should convert to drops/iodine/boil… but how reliable/safe/worth it is this type of system? Also I'm still up in the air about bear cans. I have both bear vault bear can models and I'm trying to decide if i can fit and 7-8 days ration into the bv450, any experience with this guys? or should I ditch a bear can altogether and use a bear bag and sling method? Thank you all, all comments/criticisms/tips are welcome… happy hiking!
GoonchMar 5, 2012 at 1:36 pm #1849107
Last year was a big snow year. This year looks like it will be a very light snow year, so by mid to late August, figure on virtually zero snow on the trail.
If you can fit 7-8 days of food into a Bear Vault 450, you are much better than I am. I generally require 100 cubic inches per day for food storage.
There are a few places along the JMT where bear bags are not considered adequate, e.g. Rae Lakes.
–B.G.–Mar 5, 2012 at 1:46 pm #1849114
Woods Creek crossing to Vidette Meadow is known as a bad bear area. Not sure if I should say "bad bear area" or "bad bear" area. Anyhow the bears in the area are reputed to be inventive at obtaining food from backpackers- by foiling substandard bear-resistant containers; by nabbing unattended packs; or by scaring hikers into dropping packs with bluff charges or other aggressive behavior.
Luckily there were bear boxes at Woods Creek, Rae Lakes (a couple), Charlotte Lake, and Vidette Meadow in 2008. If I were using a substandard bear resistant container such as the Ursack, I would use bear boxes where available even if it meant modifying my camp location.
In Late August 2008 I never even got my shoes wet hiking the JMT. Unless this spring and early summer are quite cool I doubt that you will need any traction aids.
There are lighter and easier options than your pump.Mar 5, 2012 at 1:55 pm #1849121
"By mid to late August, figure on virtually zero snow on the trail."
August? Bob, I'm thinking maybe May. If we don't get any major storms in Mar/Apr, it won't matter if it does snow in May, it just won't stick.
I'm plotting a quickie Forester pass loop from OV to Symmes as an opening season jaunt in May if this weather keeps up.Mar 5, 2012 at 2:04 pm #1849126
"Woods Creek, Rae Lakes (a couple), Charlotte Lake, and Vidette Meadow"
Apparently that is the area of contention. It has been stated by the authorities that the bear boxes at Rae Lakes are intended for PCT hikers, and that all others should use a canister. Of course, that is not easily enforceable. Then other authorities stated that PCT hikers got "priority" for bear box space. That's still tough to enforce. First, you have to be able to find the darn bear boxes. I have seen some of them, and I have a detailed map with GPS locations on the others. They are located in the primo camping spots.
Charlotte Lake is not exactly on the JMT, but it is worth the detour to see it.
Personally, I just find a bear canister to be simpler to deal with as compared to the alternatives.
–B.G.–Mar 5, 2012 at 2:08 pm #1849128
"August? Bob, I'm thinking maybe May."
Yes, the snow will be nearly gone by May, but there will be snow lasting longer on the north sides of the high passes.
Please report back to us on the state of bears.
–B.G.–Mar 5, 2012 at 2:15 pm #1849131
I re-read the first post. I was thinking Ursack but he said "bear bag and sling". Not approved for most of the JMT. Worth and worthy of a ticket. In my practiced opinion, carrying a "bear resistant food storage container" will let you cover more miles with less effort than proper, Sierra bear proof hanging. To do it right you need fairly big trees with long, limber branches. Many points on the JMT are several miles from such a tree. To rig and retrieve the bear hang usually takes me at least 15 minutes per day, usually more due to time to find a good tree. It really has to be done in daylight which limits hiking & camp setup.Mar 5, 2012 at 2:32 pm #1849139
Some of these trouble areas along the JMT are not troublesome just because of some regulations. Typically there is a unique situation rising from heavy human traffic along the JMT coupled with specifics of the trees. Some trees are tall enough, but their branches to not grow long enough, so they become impractical. Some areas have been overused to the point where all of the good branches are broken off.
In some places, the ranger who catches you will simply give you a warning. In some places, he writes you a citation. In some places, he will escort you off the trail to the nearest roadhead.
I don't know what I would do without a bear canister to sit on in camp.
–B.G.–Mar 6, 2012 at 8:25 am #1849517
Well seems like ill just take the bv500..easiest hassle free method, and i didn't consider the fact that i would have to specifically tailor my campsites around accessible branches and trees, when I often like to stay above the tree line.
To the snow issue… that's what i figured. seems pretty dry up there now and unless we get a late storm system i doubt they'll be much more.
Anyone live up in that area or been there lately to report on the conditions?
As for water treatment I don't think this issue has really been addressed. I've always used reverse osmosis water filters whether ceramic or fiber filter. I've never trusted chemical drops or tablets for purifying water but… I'm now considering to it to minimize weight. who has experience with this method? Does it leave a foul taste? what is the process/ratio for using these chemicals? which ones work the best?
Thank you for you responses everyone you all have been very helpfulMar 6, 2012 at 9:57 am #1849586
I purified maybe about 1/4 of my water along the JMT last year. I went days without treating any and didn't get sick.
For chemicals, stay away from iodine; everything else is rather similar.
A Steripen is another option – not UL, but many find it to be worth carrying for various reasons.Mar 6, 2012 at 10:30 am #1849606
yeah last year a majority of the pct hikers i ran into said they just looked for smart water sources that looked safe. but one of the members of my group near the end of our trip came down with terrible diereha and vomiting for two days, this was with using a filter… so i just dont want to take any risks like that because this year i REALLY want to finish and not leave it to one of my stupid decisions to ruin the trip. anyway this brings up another good question
do osmosis filters remove harmful bacteria or just minerals? does this mean i should be cleaning my filter more than just once a month? should i use steralized water to rinse it out daily or weekly? or use iodine to clean it or other similar products?
GoonchMar 6, 2012 at 11:48 am #1849632
Almost every Sierra tale of gastrointestinal distress comes from someone who was part of a group that thought they were properly treating their water. Probably true- It wasn't the water rather the hygene habits of the party.
Don't shake anybody's hand; don't share food or cooking equipment; for God's sake never let another hiker reach into your GORP bag!Mar 6, 2012 at 4:39 pm #1849770
GREAT point… i never really thought about that so much. but i suppose the only person you can trust is yourself and that includes cleanlinessMar 6, 2012 at 7:23 pm #1849840
@tuskaderoLocale: Washington State
On my jmt thru hike last August, my hiking partner and I were sharing a steripen. Day 2 at cathedral lakes my brilliant buddy decided to take a swim with the steripen in his pocket. So for the next 14 days we drank smart, from the source and had zero issues. I was especially careful to wash hands, stay clean and not share food.Mar 7, 2012 at 4:30 am #1849930
@jdehaan001Locale: Western N.Y.
Reverse Osmosis filters will virtually remove all protozoan cysts, bacteria, and even the smallest viruses. The smallest is around 0.007 um (7 thousandths of a micron or micrometer). A typical RO filter has pores in the membrane of various sizes from 0.0001um to 0.0005um (5 ten-thousandths of a micron). The largest pores are only big enough to allow water molecules and some gases through, while eliminating anything larger. Here's a link to an excellent chart depicting the sizes of contaminates in water: http://reverseosmosissystemsreview.com/particle-size-chart.html
I'm not sure what you can use to "clean" the filter membrane. I'm not sure if it's recommended, other than replacing the filter after a determined amount of water has flowed through it. Good luck friend.
-JohnMar 7, 2012 at 10:32 am #1850084
Jim's got it right. The #1 contaminant in the backcountry is other people.
People attribute "getting sick" to their water, when in all likelihood it was one of their hiking partners' [lack of] hygiene habits.Mar 7, 2012 at 12:17 pm #1850140
When my girlfriend and I hiked the JMT last summer, we relied on aqua mira drops. They don't leave any detectable taste IMO. We rebottled the drops, carrying enough to get us to Muir Trail Ranch, where we resupplied. Every morning, we'd wake up, and pre mix the solution (Aqua Mira requires a mixing of 2 solutions, and a 5 min wait time) in a tiny tiny dropper bottle. We still picked our water sources carefully, but would only wait 20 minutes after treatment before drinking the water. Although pre-mixing isn't approved in the directions, many of us do it just fine. Just remember, so long as the pre-mixed solution still has a yellow tint to it, then you're good to go.
Also, if you choose to do this method, remember the drop ratios needed for treatment. 1 liter of water requires 7 drops of Solution A, and 7 drops of Solution B. Hence, if you premix, remember to drop in 14 drops.
This system worked out great for us. I agree with others, most illness in the backcountry results from "Poop hands" and not dirty water. I think this is especially true since your group was using a filter, which is pretty much foolproof.
In regards to the bear vault…I too tried to get away with a bearvault 450. While it's possible, there are other problems. Namely, you have to pack the 450 perfectly to get it all to fit. The only problem is, reality dictates that you'll likely have to reach for that snickers bar, or powdered gatorade thats at the very bottom of the bv450. The time it takes to empty out the can, grab your goodies, and then repack perfectly was not worth it to me, so I went with the bv500. Don't even bother with the hanging method…it's pretty much prohibited on the majority of the JMT, and it's not fun to have to schedule your hiking mileage around your ability to reach bear lockers.
I bet you could get away with not bringing any traction devices at all, especially this year. But if you have your heart set on it, don't bring anything heavy duty, not even yaktrax or micro spikes.
Just pick up something like this:
http://www.dealextreme.com/p/portable-ice-climbing-mountaineering-shoes-crampons-pair-106741Mar 7, 2012 at 4:47 pm #1850299
Thank you for the plethora of information!
Aqua Mira.. i think im gonna go get me some of that stuff and try it out. I was just looking for some first hand experience telling me it did taste like chlorine. when it comes down to bigger particulates and silk what did you do? avoid water sources with that kind of material altogether?
thats what i figured with the bv450… and when it comes to food id rather be safe then sorry and pack a little extra.
do you know of any similar ultralight 'crampons' to the ones you linked? just for some other options… those look great btw.
thanks for your imput!Mar 7, 2012 at 4:55 pm #1850301
"when it comes down to bigger particulates and silk what did you do?"
I brought something similar to this
But on the JMT the water was clear enough that I rarely used it. Could use a bandana as well.Mar 8, 2012 at 9:14 pm #1850919
@tracedefLocale: Southern California
Other people's hands never even occurred to me …. amazing the things I learn here…. makes so much sense. :)Mar 9, 2012 at 12:30 pm #1851237
same! and the folks i was hiking with last year weren't the most sanitary bunch, no wonder they got sick. won't make the same mistake again…Mar 9, 2012 at 1:46 pm #1851293
Last summer, I was solo backpacking along one stretch of the JMT through Evolution Valley. I knew where the last best campsite was for me, but just as I reached that location, another grubby fellow threw down his pack ahead of me. Then he took a step forward and thrust out his hand to shake. Instinctively, I shook hands with him. Just in that instant as our hands touched, I realized that this was not completely wise. His hand felt sticky and hot. Who knows where it had been that day. I walked away from the campsite and the trail and found a spot of my own. Then I immediately went to the stream to wash my hands.
Of course, now that I think about it. He probably had to wash his hands as well.
–B.G.–Mar 10, 2012 at 3:24 pm #1851730
I couldn't stop laughing when I read your post. It reminds me of a few past food-sharing incidents I had on trail. Mind you, I am very fastidious about keeping me and in particular my hands clean when I'm on trail, especially as a contact lens wearer. I personally never handle even my own food with bare hands without first washing them, but rather use the packaging to hold bars, etc or simply shake snack or GORP items out of their sack instead of reaching in.
I thought when meeting and sharing snacks with others along the trail, that this was understood etiquette, so imagine my surprise when other people have reached into my snack bags to help themselves to some nosh! Horrified, this happened to me twice. The first time, I just left "po-op-hands-#1" keep the bag. The second time, the offending "po-op-hands #2" declined my offer to keep the bag, so I just throw away the contents. Somebody else saw me do this and asked why and my immediate reply was, "yuck, they may have po-oopy-hands."
Now, when I share food, I shake it out for them, or specifically ask people not to reach in the bag. Originally, I didn't want to appear rude by asking, now I know better. So if I meet you on trail, you're welcome to share my snacks, but please don't become "po-op-hands #3!"
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