Last Minute Sierra Gear Advice?
Jul 16, 2021 at 9:19 am #3722079
I’m headed into the Humphreys Basin area this week and it looks like the weather is likely to include thunderstorms each afternoon. I never get cold when moving (even if it’s wet) and usually I move all day until I set up camp and then fall asleep instantly. I’m not used to afternoon thunderstorms in the Sierra, I have always had rain occur there at night except once or twice. I sleep super hot. This trip may be different because I’m going solo (a fairly new dynamic for me) and my fitness level is relatively low right now. I do get cold hanging out in camp and I might be hanging out more than usual during this trip due to my fitness.
Here’s a weather report focused on Desolation Lake. I plan to be out through Thursday.
Pieces I can add or swap out are:
- TNF TKA 1/4 zip fleece (much warmer than the MacPac fleece) 226g
- Tachyon windshirt 51g
- MB extra light Anorak puffy 190g
- EE thin Climashield balaclava 39g
- Merino beanie (thin) 26g
- Helium 2 rain shell. 180g
- Froggtoggs rain shell 164g
- Packa Rain Shell. 240g (definitely the most fun for hiking in the rain due to excellent coverage and mechanical ventilation)
- Silnylon rain skirt 61g
- Thermasilk long underwear 81g
- YMG rain pogies 25g
I’m taking my YMG Cirriform Min tarp and bug bivy. I’ll take my HG 20° quilt. I’m not taking a stove or wool gloves (I’ll wear Glacier sun gloves and food handlers gloves if I’m getting wet or mosquitos are biting). I usually sleep in normal underwear and a fleece or my hiking shirt, no long underwear.
I am thinking I should at least bring the balaclava or maybe switch to the heavier fleece or add the down puffy.
Any thoughts?Jul 16, 2021 at 9:33 am #3722082Mark VerberBPL Member
@verberLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
Your clothing look good to me, but I run hot. In evening after a good day of activity a cap4 hoody + windshirt keeps me comfortable down to 40F. Seems like the only time you might be cold would be when you have stopped at the end of the day or getting moving in the morning. The answer for those is use your quilt as a shawl and/or move to increase your MET.
That said, my “luxury” items is an extra warm hat, especially as a quilt user. I always bring a wind shirt… not to “keep warm” at the coldest moments, but because it lets me stay comfortable when it’s cooler but I am active.Jul 16, 2021 at 9:37 am #3722084Erik HagenBPL Member
@ewh100Locale: SF Bay Area
For me, I pretty much always take a down puffy for anything above 8,000 feet in the Sierras and never regret. Although temps look decent for your trip you’ll be very exposed in Humphey’s Basin area and will be very breezy at times. I have friends who are a little farther south of that area who are reporting mosquitos are very bad right now.Jul 16, 2021 at 9:40 am #3722085
Thanks Mark. It sounds like you and I run at similar heat levels and with similar strategies.
Let me rephrase the question slightly differently:
I’m not worried about being cold while moving, in the morning or at night. I’m concerned about getting cold in an afternoon thunderstorm hunkered down under a tree for an hour or two if I’m not feeling like moving. Which of my clothing options/add-one is most likely to keep me comfortable for the least amount of weight?
Mark mentions a warm hat and the Balaclava is that for sure and can be used modularly with anything. I’m leaning towards staying with my original kit + the balaclava.Jul 16, 2021 at 9:44 am #3722086
Erik – Yeah it does sound like the skeeters are bad based on trip reports on HST. Everything is treated with permethrin and I have a headnet I love.
Agreed the HB is exposed. I could basecamp around Hutchinson Meadow to be more protected but I’m guessing that is skeeter-city right now.Jul 16, 2021 at 10:06 am #3722094Bruce TolleyBPL Member
@btolleyLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
@ matthew. I see that the forecast is for rain and wind gusts up to 15mph. In the mountains, local topograpy could cause those gust to be much higher in velocity.
I used to believe I could stay warm without rain or wind protection on my legs as long as I was moving. But once time I got caught in a thunderstorm with hail and wind and temperatures dropped into the low 30s. I was descending and not able to keep warm and, given the topography, there was no place to hunker down. So I started running.
Even a little bit of hypothermia can impact your cognitive abilities and judgment which gets you into even worse circumstances. I would take the balaclava and the puffy and think about how to keep your legs dry if not take rainpants. Perhaps your rain skirt can serve that purpose.Jul 16, 2021 at 6:25 pm #3722155DWR DBPL Member
You probably are aware of this, but will say it anyway just in case you don’t…
Humphrey’s Basin is very exposed and a risky place to be when there is lightening.
Weather reports like that are of some concern in the High Sierra as it can be wildly different than what you get…. you could get all sunny days and no rain or lightening. Or you could get a week of solid rain and horrendous lightening storms and high, gusty winds… and even hail. While many here preach the ‘don’t pack your fears’ slogan; I prefer the old boy scout motto: “Be Prepared”… I’d take full rain gear, gloves, and a puffy… and have a Plan B in mind….
DWR…Jul 16, 2021 at 6:39 pm #3722156jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
Afternoon t storms are usual for the Sierra this time of year. They really aren’t anything to worry about. they always give plenty of notice so you can plan for them. It’s generally easy to be surrounded by many higher peaks. Humphreys basin itself is an exception. But even there, there are higher peaks about. I’ve never had issues with becoming exposed to cold in t storms, even at altitude. They tend to be short lived, unless they’re being fed from monsoonal moisture from the east.
the weather report that you posted looks pretty darn good to me. I wouldn’t hesitate for an instant.
Umm, I bring a puffy too. It gets cold at altitude. And remember to cover your hands for mosquitoes! as well as everything else.Jul 16, 2021 at 7:08 pm #3722158
Ok. Thanks for all the opinions. General consensus seems to be erring on the side of caution which makes sense. Hutchinson Meadow seems like a good spot to retreat to and I suppose I could basecamp there with the mosquitos. Or maybe farther up French Canyon.Jul 16, 2021 at 7:12 pm #3722159
Bruce, I hear your warning and now that I think about the times I’ve been hiking wet in snowy/sleety/rain it’s been in NE Arizona in the trees so it definitely wasn’t gusting 30 mph.
I have endured wet/cold/windy in the Sierra a couple times at night when I was in a tent. not when I was trying to make miles.Jul 16, 2021 at 8:32 pm #3722161nunatakBPL Member
Forecast doesn’t look terrible, but you never know. I could get by with your kit plus one more warm static layer.
Personally I would camp lower and hike high in the morning, then maybe change that plan once I got a feel for the weather. Tree line in both Paiute and French have good camps. Humphryes terrain is fast and easy and the basin(s) are not that big; would be hard not covering the whole thing in two six hour morning hikes, including climbing Pilot Knob.Jul 16, 2021 at 9:03 pm #3722162
No, I left her at home. She gets really antsy after about 90 minutes in the car.Jul 16, 2021 at 9:48 pm #3722168Steve ThompsonBPL Member
I like it he Packa or a Poncho as rain and pack cover protection especially if you might be hiking in the inclement weather. Beyond that, a synthetic puffy.
I just finished the JMT and on the warm nights I slept in my puffy and kept the unzipped sleeping bag over my legs.Jul 17, 2021 at 9:29 am #3722180jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
well, I looked at the national weather service report after seeing that we might get lightning here in the Bay area in Sunday. You’re looking at monsoonal moisture out of Four Corners. The good news is that it’s not moisture coming from a hurricane off Mexico. This looks to be fairly dry. but those monsoon fed t-storms don’t act as predictably as garden variety t storms in the Sierra. Still looks pretty good tho.
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
Our Community Posts are Moderated
Backpacking Light community posts are moderated and here to foster helpful and positive discussions about lightweight backpacking. Please be mindful of our values and boundaries and review our Community Guidelines prior to posting.