Jun 15, 2012 at 6:42 pm #1291075
DeletedJun 16, 2012 at 12:26 am #1887447
@sgiachettiLocale: Boulder, CO
A 30 degree quilt or bag with whatever you typically use for 3 season or summer ground mat will work fine. A neo-air or something comparable would work well. Of course check the weather forcast before you head out, but its pretty summery up there right now. Not much snow on the ground either.Jun 16, 2012 at 5:29 am #1887465
Will definitely check the forecast, I am heading out Thursday afternoon for an early Friday start.
Would you go with boots or trail runners?
StephenJun 16, 2012 at 5:37 am #1887466
Forgot to mention I am fairly cold sleeper, I won't be using a bivy either as will be packing a Tarp Tent Stratosphire 1 with mesh inner.
StephenJun 16, 2012 at 7:56 am #1887482
How cold is directly dependent on where you're sleeping and wind exposure. Elevations in IPW are from 8,000 to 13,000. A 15-30 bag will be fine – take an extra closed cell pad if sleeping on snow. Today weekend report is calling for windy conditions.
I was up there two weeks ago, it had dumped over 8" of snow the night before, sleeping on 3'-4' of snow at about 11,800' with a cold front coming in at sunset – it got very cool, probably low 20's for a while – but warmed up during the night to low 30's or so. The trailhead I went in on at approx 10k was 1-2 foot snowpack and depending on sun exposure of the trail you could walk on top of the pack in places – many sections you would posthole up to the top of your knees. Above 11k the trails tended to be nicely snowpacked – off trail you're wading through at least 1 foot of soft snow and up to your waist in places.
The lakes and streams are melting out – I was able to advance by walking on frozen lake ice (i.e. easy hiking) – I would not recommend that this week which is going to make navigation around the larger lakes quite a bit more complicated. The snowfield / glacier climbing (above 11,800) was very soft at the time – they may have firmed up a little bit by now.
Attached is a weather conditions web for Long's Peak (at a 13k point) just a few miles north of where you'll be. Also check "Accuweather reports for Boulder and Estes Park to gain current info of condition around that area.
Where are you going? What trailhead are you going in on? Have fun – be safe.Jun 16, 2012 at 9:07 am #1887502
Trail Head is Camp Dick, crossing Buchanan Pass, camping at Gourd Lake and Crater Lake so sleeping at baout 10K.
I am going to bring an Exped Symat UL 7, I have a half a Ridgerest as frame sheet so can use that if needs be also, if the weather goes crazy can aways pack a Down UL 7.
At the moment my lightest sleeping bag is a 10F Feathered Friends Lark, I had been testing out a quilt and hood less bag but did not get on with them.
I contemplated getting a WM Megalite or something like, but I am not sure it would be good enough for me as I sleep cold.
StephenJun 16, 2012 at 9:54 am #1887509
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
I backpacked up to Arapaho Pass in the Indian Peaks area three years ago.
My tent was a TT Moment. My sleep system was a ProLite mattress and a WM Megalite 30 F. bag. But… since it was October I had to wear a synthetic insulated pants and jacket (Thermolite insulation)inside my bag. I was fine even in the in very windy overnight conditions. Just remember, the Indan Peaks area is known for its high winds.
In summer in a TT Stratospire a 30 F. down bag or 20 F. synthetic bag should be fine. Just guy out the Stratospire very well.
BTW, I was at 11,000 ft. that night and camping on new but consolidated snow at the treeline.Jun 16, 2012 at 10:02 am #1887511
Cheers Eric :-)
I have added two extra guy points half way up the end sections and Henry added 4 extra ground peg points, if the forecast gets bad I always have the option to bring my Scarp.
Does your Megalite have overfill?Jun 16, 2012 at 10:09 am #1887513
@hikinggrannyLocale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
I personally would not go out at higher elevations in the Rockies without at least a 20*F bag.Jun 16, 2012 at 10:50 am #1887521
I was thinking that myself but it good to get assurance from others.
This will be only be my second trip since moving to the US and it will the highest I have every slept at in a tent.
I was out in 15f (15f colder than forecasted) recently in Ireland and had wished I brought a warmer bag but then so did two of the other four folks in the group.
StephenJun 16, 2012 at 11:29 am #1887535
What warm clothing and rain gear would folks be packing.
StephenJun 16, 2012 at 11:42 am #1887538
Going from CD TH to Gourd Lake in one push this time of year is a "little" optimistic – doable but will be a very long strenuous day. The trail to Gourd may not have been set as of yet and you may need some route finding to get in there. The Buchanan trail from the St. Vrain cut-off and then, when past the Red Deer cut-off into the "bowl" below Buchanan pass may also be sketchy and require some route finding – it's north to NE exposed shady in that area and probably holding good snow.
I wouldn't worry as much about a sleeping system as the challenge of wet feet (lots of dry socks / E-vent gaitors) and dealing with wind (cool mountain breeze, this time of year). Though the very windy season conditions have passed, they can still show up for short periods. Your 10* bag will be a little warm – you may not need the heavy or extra sleeping pad with that bag. If you plan on sleeping on snow above say 10,500' or so, you may find a shovel or scoop to be a nice tool for dealing with a tent pad.
Let me know if you need any other trail info – I lived 4 miles downstream of CD TH through the 1980's and currently hike / ski the IPW year round. I'll try to post some pics this evening of that area. Have fun!Jun 16, 2012 at 11:55 am #1887540
It's buddy of mine that lives in Boulder is after deciding the route.
I know we plan to be at the Trail head fairly early.
So it would be worth while bringing along a snow claw?
Should I be packing full knee length gaiters and boots or would shore gaiter and Trail runners be sufficient?
I was going to pack my Event Rain gear but has not decided on a wind shirt.
Sounds like I might need to rethink my clothing I was going to wear.
CheersJun 16, 2012 at 1:05 pm #1887549
@lotuseaterLocale: Colorado Foothills
@Mark – Thanks for your insights. I've done much of the route later in the year, and took 4th of July TH to Arapaho Pass two weeks ago. Gourd Lake is a stretch goal for day 1, but my backup is a site off the Buchanan Pass Trail on the west side a few miles closer to the Pass. Would you consider the trail from Beaver Reservoir any better than from Camp Dick? I'm not a fan of the first few miles from the reservoir to Coney Flats, hence my plan to start further north.Jun 16, 2012 at 1:26 pm #1887554
It really doesn't rain per say this time of year as you may be used to in the Mid-West – you may get an afternoon shower but it will clear up in a few minutes / hours and be a little cooler thereafter – a common DWR will be OK or a thin E-vent. Your most useful clothing will be a thin long sleeve zip-top and a wind shirt while hiking. It's going to be actually hot while hiking uphill above treeline – the alpine sun can be a real scorcher at higher elevations. A sunhat, sunscreen (sunscreen on your ears, under your ears, under your nose & chin – no kidding) and light layers are very helpful. The afternoons tend to cloud over and then dry back up around sunset.
For feet – once again area conditions depending – melting snow gets your feet wet – in some places the trail will be channeling run-off water – no big deal as it's not that cold while hiking – however, wet feet encourage blisters and wet feet get cold when you stop for a while. Runner with a low-medium gaiters will probably be OK on dry & snowy trail like conditions – boots might be better for off-trail conditions or if kick-stepping for a distance. It's pretty steep at the top of Buchanan – it also might be a dry trail?? – ski poles should be good enough – I usually carry an alpine ice axe for off trail glacier / snowfield approaches – not necessary if you intent to stay out of those conditions.
BTW – look at my posts under "View My Profile" my very first posts (page2) have three photos near the area your going. The first one is taken from the top of Algonquin looking north across Sawtooth into RMNP – that it 14k Long's Peak in the center – that first patch of snow on the left is probably the top of Buchanan pass. The second is from the CD looking west about 1 mile south of Buchanan Pass and the third is looking into the Pauite Cirque from the northeast looking southwest – that connecting ridge on the far left is the northern side of Audubon.Jun 16, 2012 at 3:35 pm #1887571
Thanks very much for the sage advice.
I sorted out the majority of my kit last night, I will bring a light event jacket and trousers with me, unless I get a good forecast on Wedneday night I will bring boots and trail runners along with some different selections of clothing so I can decide on Friday morning what to wear.
I am sure Stuart has the route planned for trails so I won't bring an axe with me. I will go check out your photos now.
Have a great weekend,
StephenJun 16, 2012 at 5:45 pm #1887582
@dondoLocale: Colorado Rockies
Since you'll be staying at Gourd and Crater Lakes, it sounds like your friend is planning a variation of the Indian Peaks Northern Loop in a counterclockwise direction. Here's a post from the early days of my blog to give you some idea of what it will look like.
If you're not used to it, the altitude can get to you, so if you don't make it to Gourd Lake, no sweat, there are plenty of good places to camp in Fox Park on the western side of Buchanan Pass.
Here's a forecast for Crater Lake for the coming week to give you an idea of the lows and highs and possible precipitation. If the weather holds, I would probably use a similar kit to the one pictured in the post. Since the campsites at Crater Lake are designated and the ground is hard, your UL7 is a good idea. And I would substitute a canister stove for the Caldera Cone because of the high fire danger this year.
And be careful of the last few yards approaching Buchanan Pass. Snow can get trapped there, and if you slip, it's a long way down.Jun 17, 2012 at 6:35 am #1887659
Thank you very much for posting, the photos and description on your blog give me a great insight as what to expect.
The area looks quiet similar to the French and Spanish Pyrennees and the French Alps.
With regard to snow on the pass, is it worth bringing Microspikes? You mention it's a. Long way if one falls , is this because of the slope angle?
StephenJun 17, 2012 at 6:53 am #1887662
@edhyattLocale: The North
I'm jealous :-)
As others have said watch the altitude – took me by surprise and took quite a few days to get used to it when I did the JMT – and that was not a strenuous trail; then again altitude and me don't mix too well….once over 2400m I feel effects. Some of the guys posting here will be used to it so might not factor it in quite so strongly for us flatlanders.Jun 17, 2012 at 6:59 am #1887663
This trip is compensation for living in flat Michigan :-)
Cheers for the heads up about the altitude, I have been at those heights we are cmaping at before but only for very short day outings.
I will watch out for the effects, if needs be I can alway head back down to a lower elevation.
I will be in you neck of the woods in August and might see you at an OM meet.
StephenJun 17, 2012 at 12:45 pm #1887721
The choice of TH's to me is about the same – I like getting into the alpine and away from other "trail hikers" as quickly as possible. The "Middle St. Vrain" TH (from CD) is a little longer, more popular and much more scenic – the Beaver Creek TH is shorter but gets you into the alpine faster – the first 4 miles is a 4WD trail which truly $uck$ for hikers – it's best to get a sunrise start to avoid the motor vehicles. I mostly hike off-trail – I'll use a main trail to get me into a general area then go my own way, scrambling, screefields, snowfields & tiptoeing through the tundra.
If you come in from MSV – it's about six miles to Red Deer Lake – nice camping spots on the northern side, up on the crown overlooking the lake. The melting snowfield at that end can be quite loud this time of year – take earplugs.
No sooner do I mention the limited rain in the Rockies this time of year – the "current" forecasts are now showing rain in the coming week or so. Front range Colorado can go into it's summer monsoonal pattern – dry mornings with afternoon showers, then drys back up – as it gets said, if you don't like the weather in Colorado – just wait 5 minutes. The rains is not a problem but the lightning can **** you – or just scare the heck out of you! Be safe.Jun 17, 2012 at 2:45 pm #1887742
I am definitely going to pack decent rain gear.
Stuart had warned me about the longing so we plan to be off the high passes by lunch time.
StephenJun 17, 2012 at 3:23 pm #1887747
I think all of the info by everyone else is quite accurate. I generally use a 20 degree bag for 3 season use in Colorado, and it works pretty well along with my UL7 pad. Wind can always be a concern at these high elevations, but properly secured, the Stratospire should be fine. Colorado weather can be fickle, so making sure you're off of exposed areas by the early afternoon is a good rule of thumb in the summer to avoid lightning and storms.
Long days of slogging through melting snow aren't that great, but I find that my trailrunners and lightweight synthetic socks are generally able to dry fairly quickly, although I am not especially prone to blisters. Your mileage may vary of course.
I'd also echo other's sentiments regarding the elevation. I think the effects of high altitude vary from person to person, but just be aware of it and make sure to stay well hydrated and to pace yourself.
Other than that, it is a beautiful place and I hope you have a great trip!Jun 17, 2012 at 3:58 pm #1887750
Cheers for the advice, I am really looking forward to the trip, especially after looking at Dondo's photos.
If the forecast looks bad I Might pack my TT scarp instead.Jun 18, 2012 at 9:07 am #1887933
@lotuseaterLocale: Colorado Foothills
Bizarre that my earlier comments reposted when I refreshed the page. Removed and here's what I really wanted to say:
Thanks Mark, Dondo and Aaron for your feedback. I'm looking at TH options and Pass conditions before Stephen comes out, and will speak with the rangers for optimal route planning. Your comments and knowledge of early season conditions has helped enormously. I've done variations of the trip in mid- to late-summer before, but may have been over-optimistic for late June with ~100F temps and reports of 2% snowpack.
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